The Late Peter Tosh was a revolutionary reggae artist known for his talent and world-changing lyrics, but also for militant personality. Many knew him as a very complicated individual, thanks to his no-nonsense personality. But what he is celebrated mostly about is his passion to fight for equal rights and justice.
He used his platform to try and change the state of things and was brutally honest in his approach. A very outspoken artist, he sang about the cry of legalizing marijuana, social and racial equality, as well as pleas for the black community to realize their roots. One of his songs, Equal Rights (1977), he attempts to bring attention to the fact that peace can never be achieved until there is establishment of equality and justice. Part of the song he says, “Everyone is crying out for peace, none is crying out for justice, I don’t want to peace; I need equal rights and justice.”
In an article written by Face2Face Africa, it reads, “He was born Winston Hubert McIntosh in Westmoreland, Jamaica, in 1944. He later gave himself the moniker Peter Tosh and in 1976 he adopted his Ethiopian name, Wolde Samayat. Tosh met Robert Nesta Marley and Neville “Bunny Wailer” Livingston in Kingston, and formed the group Wailin’ Wailers (later The Wailers) under Joe Higgs’ guidance. Tosh being the only one with skills to play musical instruments besides Higgs, taught Bunny and Marley to play guitar. He had learned the guitar for one day by just watching a man play. Tosh and Bunny left the group in 1973 due to unfair treatment they received from Chris Blackwell, then president of Island Records.”
After the disintegration of the Wailers, Tosh took up the opportunity to push and deliver his messages of justice and equality. He continued to sing more and more of the revolutionary political music armed with a guitar in the shape of a M16 rifle.
Herbie Miller, former manager of Tosh writes in his biography, “Peter Tosh often performed for free on many anti-apartheid concerts, at times paying from his own pocket those in the band and crew who insisted on being paid. Their demands would not prevent Tosh from giving his energy and talents to the cause of African freedom.”
Tosh’s daring defiance against the government got him in trouble with authorities on several occasions, but still he didn’t stop. He was arrested on several instances, one of which he was almost killed by 10 officers.
He was so passionate about what he believed that he could even turn down offers that he deemed were not advocating equality and justice. He devoted his life and time to fighting for improved lives of black people world over. And reports by media outlets have it that, “He once refused to perform in a white-dominated section of apartheid South Africa in 1977, although the financial returns exceeded anything he had previously earned. He claimed he would perform, only if it was for those adversely affected by apartheid and if the benefits thereof were channeled towards their improvement.”
Popularly known as Steppin’ Razor, he is remembered for his actions, stance, words and performances. After passing in September 11th 1987, he remains ones of the most celebrated, insightful and devoted twentieth-century political activists.
He will alwaus be remembered for his contributions in the fight against inequality and advocation for justice.