Forbes - Contributed
In Friday's Gleaner Copeland Forbes' in-depth story of Peter Tosh's famous M-16 shaped guitar ended with him eventually persuading the fan who made it to accept payment for the instrument in Los Angeles, California. Today, the tour and the guitar move on.
When the Mama Africa Tour moved over to Europe the airline had lost the guitar. Immediately I called our public relations officer and press agent, Charley Comer in New York, and told him the bad news.
Comer, an Irishman who was a great lover of Peter's music, immediately placed an article in the top German magazine, Der Spiegel, about the lost guitar and who the owner was. By the next day the guitar was found and Peter was now a happy man again.
I can remember during his performance that night in Germany at the Sunshine Festival when he took it up to play. He looked at Donald Kinsey and smiled and gave me a nod. As I was standing on the side of the stage I could see how happy he was as he strummed along, playing his famous 'wah wah' sound on his guitar effect rack.
Different African Languages
In December of the same year the Mama Africa Tour went to Swaziland for two concert performances, and as soon as the intro of the song Fight Apartheid was heard, Peter took up his M-16 guitar and started playing, and the entire stadium of over 30,000 fans erupted in screams and shouts of 'Freedom, freedom, freedom'. The security forces were so amazed at the sight of such an instrument that they started speaking in different African languages. We couldn't understand what they were saying.
Within five minutes the over 5,000 fans who were outside the stadium, who could not afford the small entrance fee of US$5 to get in, heard about Peter's M-16 guitar and began to climb the walls of the stadium, while some proceeded to push the gate, which came down in no time, and the fans literally invaded the VIP section.
Pandemonium broke out while the very tight Word Sound and Power band belted out the reggae African anthem of South Africa, 'We gonna fight fight fight fight gainst apartheid'. This concert went down as the biggest concert in the history of Swaziland until this very day.
Musical Freedom Fighters
Now, after this brief history of this famous instrument of one of our musical freedom fighters, Peter Tosh, and to hear that it will be put on auction, I asked myself: where are the administrators of the Peter Tosh estate? This piece of history should be in a museum in Jamaica where visitors can come and see the weapon that the great musical freedom fighter Peter Tosh used in southern Africa to help fight the fight to tear down apartheid.
Where are the administrators of the Peter Tosh estate?
This is the property of Peter Tosh; this is the property of his 10 children; this is the property of Miss Alvira Cooke (Peter's mother, who is still alive) in Westmoreland, and last, but not least, where are the Jamaican people and those who now enjoy and live an apartheid-free life?
It's a shame! It's a shame!
It's a shame to treat a great son of the soil of this great country, Jamaica, who suffered quite a lot of humiliation for his country, his culture, his people, and most of all, this great music called reggae.
Please save Peter's legacy. Save Peter's name and, most of all, save our music and our country.
(Extract from the soon-to-be- released book 'Reggae My Life Is', written by Copeland Forbes