Late reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert will be laid to rest in his birth place in May Pen.
Toots Hibbert, one of the founding fathers of reggae music who died at the age of 77 due to complications stemming from COVID-19, will be laid to rest in his hometown of May Pen, Clarendon. The official statement came from gospel singer and daughter of the legendary singer, Jenieve Bailey. “We, as a family, have decided that our father will be buried in his hometown in May Pen.”
Toots Hibbert, who hails from the Treadlight district in May Pen, became an orphan during the early years of his life after both his parents passed. Being the youngest of his siblings, he was eventually relocated to Trenchtown in Kingston to live with his brother. It is the time spent in the musical Mecca of Kingston, which would influence Hibbert to form Toots And The Maytals in the early 1960s, after meeting fellow bandmates Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Matthias.
The Hibbert family is pleased to have the reggae legend heading back to the Southern parish where he was born. Wilbert Hibbert, Toots’ 59-year-old nephew said, “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.”
Still, many persons felt that the singer is befitting of a burial at National Heroes Park where other Jamaican greats such as Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley, reggae singer Dennis Brown, Edna Manley, Ranny Williams, and Herb McKenley have been laid to rest. However, Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange ceased any such talks over the weekend with a reminder of a previous decision that was made.
She said, “There is really no doubt as to the contribution he made to the growth and development of Jamaican music over the years. However, a decision had been taken that no other persons would be buried in the area for cultural icons and the only other burials that will take place there are those for future prime ministers.”
With a place of burial now confirmed, there is still a matter of the exact date on which he will be laid to rest. As for the traditional nine-night services, that has been derailed by restrictions imposed to stem to the spread of COVID-19.
“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 organized 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 towards the end of the statement.
“We crave your continued patience, prayer, and support as we work to lay him to rest in a dignified manner befitting his station in life as Jamaica’s premier cultural icon,” the statement continued.