Sun | Sep 24, 2023

Nephew praying for Toots’ send-off to be as big as Bob Marley’s

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2020 | 12:07 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Toots Hibbert
Toots Hibbert
Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert and daughter Jenieve.
Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert and daughter Jenieve.

Wilbert Hibbert, the nephew of late reggae superstar, Toots Hibbert, dedicated Wednesday to fasting and praying for nothing short of a miracle, as it relates to the final send-off for his beloved uncle. Jamaica is in the throes of a pandemic, and the rules of engagement demand mask-wearing, social distancing and the elimination of church services for funerals, which are allowed a mere handful of mourners. And Wilbert Hibbert is as dismissive of a church gathering, as he is adamant that his uncle deserves and should be accorded a funeral as big as that of reggae king, Bob Marley.

“We don’t want any church service. I have zero tolerance for a little church ting. Zero tolerance,” Wilbert, 59, told The Gleaner. “Knowing who my uncle is, he supposed to get a big send-off. My uncle is not just for May Pen, he is for the whole world. We talking about the man who create the word reggae, the man who put the ‘r’ in reggae. My vision is to see a parade led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Minister of Culture, Gender Entertainment & Sport, Olivia Grange. Him [Toots] have to come down here like how Bob [Marley] go to St Ann.”

Wilbert’s wishlist also includes the body of the internationally acclaimed Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert lying in state at the National Stadium or Arena where his fans can go and pay their respect.

“My brother, sister, my entire family fasting and praying for my uncle to get this final crown and to be put to rest in style. I see it happen for Bob and I was so proud. My uncle Toots who I call Nyahbinghi, has a long history with the stadium. That is where he did a lot of his great performances like his winning festival songs. That’s why the parade should start right there,” Wilbert outlined.

The Hibbert family on Monday stated in a release that the remains of the renowned reggae pioneer will be buried in May Pen, Clarendon

“We, as a family, have decided that our father will be buried in his hometown in May Pen,” Jenieve Bailey, the eldest daughter of the late icon said in the statement.

Wilbert was quite happy when it was revealed that Toots would be taking the ‘country road’ back home. “The whole family agrees for him to come back home to where his mother, father, three brothers and sister are buried. He needs to take the country road back to the place where he belongs, you don’t need anything plainer than that,” Wilbert Hibbert was quoted in a release.

State of disbelief

But, he told The Gleaner that he still can’t believe that his uncle has died, and related the last conversation between him and the man who was like a father to him. “He was down here in Treadlight and then him call me a few days later to say that rain wet him and he wasn’t feeling too well and I must make some medicine for him. I prepared it and called him but didn’t get him. Then I called his driver and he said that Nyah said his stomach was hurting and he couldn’t come that day so I should put it in the fridge and he would come the following day. But when I called next day, I hear that Sister Doreen [Toots’ wife] had to rush him to the hospital the night because he tek a turn for the worse. And from that I don’t hear a word from my uncle. All now the medicine in the fridge waiting for my uncle to come for it.”

The family has so far not revealed an official date for the memorial service and farewell for the reggae pioneer.

“It’s a lot to ensure that everything is done in the right manner because of the huge international interest in our father’s legacy and music. We are working assiduously to ensure everything is properly organised before we announce the eventual funeral date, and we plan to ensure that all COVID-19 protocols are observed and implemented for the funeral,” Bailey said in the release.