Fri | May 25, 2018

Peter Tosh symposium to help sing Happy Birthday

Published:Saturday | October 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Dr Clinton Hutton
Herbie Miller
Carolyn Cooper makes a point to a group during a Gleaner's Editors' forum at the company's office recently. Looking on is noted journalist Barbara Gloudon. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer
Peter Tosh

A symposium entitled, 'Peter Tosh - Reggae Revolutionary and Equal Rights Advocate,' will be held at the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), next Friday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The symposium is being held to celebrate the anniversary of Tosh's birth on October 19, 1944, as well as to acknowledge him being conferred with the Order of Merit (OM) posthumously.

The featured panellists this year will be Herbie Miller, former manager of Peter Tosh, and curator of the Jamaica Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica; Dr Clinton Hutton, musicologist, painter, and lecturer in the Department of Government; Professor Carolyn Cooper, founder and former director of the Reggae Studies Unit at the Mona Campus of UWI, as well as Niambe and Dave Tosh, daughter and son of the enigmatic Peter Tosh.

Tosh, one of Jamaica's undisputed reggae icons, was not only one of the founding members of one of the greatest reggae groups ever to come out of Jamaica, The Wailers, but was also known as an unapologetic revolutionary and champion for equal rights and justice.

Tosh was more than just a musician, he was an agitator, advocate, activist and protagonist and epitomised in every way the political dimension of Rastafari in all its glory.

Jamaica's third-highest honour

Twenty five years after his passing in this 50th commemorative year of Jamaica's Independence, Tosh now joins his former band mate, Bob Marley, in being awarded Jamaica's third highest-honour. No other reggae artistes, other than the indomitable Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley, have achieved this distinction.

Miller in his presentation at the symposium will look further at the significance of Tosh being awarded an OM in the land of his birth.

For many Tosh fans, as well as family and friends, recognition for the work that he has done has been long overdue, and has been hard fought for behind the scenes.

Miller has already made a strong case that the award is for Tosh's artistic excellence and the immense influence his art has had on making the world a better place.

Tosh in his role as a reggae musician, just like Bob Marley, has undeniably elevated Jamaica's place in the world. The question that will be posed at the symposium, however, is: If Tosh were alive today would he accept the award or shun it?

Cooper will examine the contentious issue of racial politics in Jamaica through the lens of Tosh's anthemic African. Contesting the 'Out of Many, One' construction of Jamaican identity, she will highlight Tosh's reclamation of Pan-Africanist ideology.

Hutton, by drawing on the lyrics of a few of Tosh's songs, will demonstrate just why the Johnny B. Goode artiste may be considered a leading reggae revolutionary, if not a Jamaican reggae revolutionary par excellence.

Hutton has extensive knowledge of Tosh's musical repertoire and has the distinction of co-launching the Peter Tosh symposium in Jamaica back in 2001.

Niambe and Dave Tosh, who are not only Tosh's offspring, but also the executors of the Peter Tosh Estate, will present a more intimate perspective on Tosh, and share their view of him as a father, distinct from Tosh the musical icon.

The two will also share some of the future plans that the Peter Tosh Estate has in furthering the legacy of their father.

In addition, there will be some cultural items from some special guests that will not only tantalise the most ardent Tosh fans, but will also engage the more casual reggae listener.

The forum will be chaired by Dr Michael Barnett, lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at UWI, Mona Campus.