Toots Hibbert: Rise up, Jamaica

Toots Hibbert: Rise up, Jamaica

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, September 14, 2020

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Jamaicans everywhere are deeply moved by the passing of Frederick Nathaniel ''Toots'' Hibbert, our favourite brother whose voice was joy itself, and whose music danced us through decades of ups and downs. Major media houses here and abroad have been carrying obituaries and features on our charismatic Toots. It was serendipitous that it was he who named the reggae beat; indeed, he personified the happiness of a rhythm that gladdened our hearts and captivated the world.

His festival songs had us on our feet: Bam Bam, Sweet and Dandy, and Pomps and Pride. His entry in this year's festival song contest was the message of a patriot: “Eternal Father, bless our land with justice, truth and rights. Won't you rise up, Jamaica; stand up, Jamaica with love and justice for all. Let us build our nation from the foundation of love… We are all God's people, we should live as one.”

His Monkey Man entered the UK charts in the seventies, bringing him to the attention of the world, but already we had been jumping to “54-46 was my number” and Pressure Drop. Toots showed his soulful side with a ringing rendition of Country Road, Take Me Home. His brilliance moved such celebrities as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Willie Nelson, who were featured on his album True Love.

In an interview with The Guardian's Miranda Sawyer, perhaps his last, he noted that he still worked a six-day week, from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. “Writing songs is so hard to do: I'm not easy to please,” he shared. Of his new album, Got To Be Tough, he said his message is, “Don't take life for granted, be careful, be strong.”

Toots Hibbert shared a Trench Town address with his close friend Bob Marley and often shared with him the stage and backup bands. Ziggy Marley posted on social media: “The legendary Toots Hibbert has passed. I spoke with him a few weeks ago, told him how much I loved him — we laughed and shared our mutual respect. He was a father figure to me — his spirit is with us, his music fills us with his energy. I will never forget him. RIP mighty and powerful niah fiah ball (tears emoji).”

We send condolence to Dorothy Hibbert, his wife of 40 years, and his children, and we give thanks that we still have his music to sing us through these challenging times. Rest in peace, beloved Toots Hibbert.

Live as one, Jamaica

We borrow Toots's words to herald in the members of the Cabinet announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness last Friday. We heartily congratulate the reappointed and new ministers and state ministers; you have worked hard and your appointments are well earned. The prime minister has not minced words about his expectations of those in whom he has entrusted the business of the country, warning against acts of corruption and reminding them that they are servants and not royalty.

They have assumed their high office in the toughest times faced by Jamaica in recent history. Last Saturday we recalled the devastation caused by Hurricane Gilbert 32 years ago, and we reflected that the damage was horrible but visible, it had a beginning and an end, and we could appeal to our international friends for assistance. COVID-19's damage is insidious and seems unending. Our international friends are also suffering from its wide and merciless grasp.

This Cabinet will have to draw on the support of citizens from every walk of life. I remember Monsignor Richard Albert relating how an old lady in Riverton Meadows called out to him on a visit and handed him a paper package with coins she had been saving. She said she saw the good he was doing and she wanted to help. And there is my friend “Mrs Ferguson”, a humble lady in St Elizabeth, who will not sit down to eat her Sunday dinner until she takes some for two elderly people who live nearby. This is the spirit of generosity that we must enkindle in our people, because no Government, no matter how competent, no matter how honest, can handle this crisis on their own.

There is so much sacrifice, so much pain. We have to search ourselves and find ways in which we can make another's life more bearable. Yes, we should expect good governance and sound policies from our leaders, but they cannot do it all.

After elections we should live as one Jamaican family, and so this disgusting behaviour of 'burying' a candidate and going to the extreme of producing a full-colour funeral programme must be given no quarter. That kind of energy should have been expended for the good. COVID-19 does not give us the luxury of time for foolishness. We need everybody on board, so we are depending on all our political representatives to set an example of respect and dignity.

iBloom Foundation

Be inspired to serve by these eight young graduates and students passionate about youth and volunteerism, who have come together to form the iBloom Foundation. They have raised funds to assist 100 students with back-to-school kits, and 45 students with credit for their online studies in urban and rural parishes. Kudos Shanakay Dyer – president, Yanique Mendez – vice-president, Shanice Harrison – secretary, Shayna Small – treasurer, Ramone Daley – fund-raising and sponsorship coordinator, Samantha Gregory – public relations officer, Kaifa Clarke – central coordinator, and Deborah Akiara – sponsorship and outreach coordinator. Their organisation has now grown to 50 members. Check out their inspiring social media messages.

COVID-19 scammers

We received reports of a scammer pretending to be from the Ministry of Health who telephoned a man informing him that he had been in contact with a COVID-19-infected person and that he would be sending him a test kit. The caller asked for his card number to collect payment for the kit. When the man refused to disclose his card number he was threatened with penalties. Please tell your senior relatives that there is no such programme and they should pass on the telephone numbers of such people to the police so they can be tracked down and charged.

Farewell, trailblazer Jeanette Grant-Woodham

Jeanette Grant-Woodham's life was one of dynamic leadership. The legendary educator was the first principal of Tivoli Gardens High School and was the first woman leader of the Senate, appointed in 1984. In his tribute to her, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said, “Jeanette pushed boundaries, broke barriers, and did the seemingly impossible.” She was appointed minister of state for foreign affairs, trade and industry in 1986, and a foundation established in her name has made tertiary education possible for several West Kingston students. She became an active member of the Jamaica Women's Political Caucus and must have taken comfort in the rising number of women politicians.

Our condolence to her son Omar and to her relatives and close friends. May the great soul of Jeanette Grant-Woodham rest in peace.

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