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Jeffrey M. Harder
Rhetoric of Reggae
Who Were These Men?
Maya Angelou, a contemporary author and poet, once asserted,"No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place."It is this quote that serves as the underlying principle in an effort to demonstrate the commonalities that tie Peter Tosh and Malcolm X together by a similar history of slavery. No other quote is more fitting to exemplify how Peter Tosh and Malcolm X came to understand themselves and their relation to the rest of mankind. Maya Angelou's statement epitomized their goals, personalities, and the sentiment that Peter Tosh and Malcolm X tried to instill in all oppressed people. At the very least, their legacies have reminded all persecuted people to stand up, fight, and let the glory of each individual shine. This was their message.
Both of these individuals knew exactly what they were creating through their respective songs, speeches, and interviews: severe discomfort for"Babylon", or tile oppressive white establishment."Babylon,"to Peter, referred to the corrupt Western society that exploited the rest of the world through hundreds of years of capitalism and imperialism (/ / 3mill.bitshop.com/ MiddlePassage / origins.htm). Malcolm held the same position (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964). For their efforts in trying to revolutionize the black man's position in this world, these martyrs lived with harassment, violence, and an"unnatural mystic"of eminent death. But this did not deter the conscience of these soldiers of justice. Malcolm X even went so far as to blatantly state:"It is time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That's the only thing that can save this country."
Though Malcolm in this statement referred to saving his"country,"it soon became apparent that he was also referring to the entire world. For Peter Tosh and Malcolm X, the means to finding a better place for blacks could never come from one country. If significant change was to result, all black people had to unite, regardless of nationality or religion. The only concern for these men was to attain a better dominion for blacks. Both individuals felt this cause was worth more than their lives. With these beliefs in hand and heart, they devoted their existence to one purpose: ending the hypocrisy where all black men and women fell prey to a"slavish mentality."
The black man's reasoning needed to be slaughtered if he ever was to be considered an equal. Peter and Malcolm tried to end this massive, black delusion by preaching and recognizing the superior qualities of blacks and denouncing the tyrannical"downpressors"(Tosh, 1977). In Peter and Malcolm's eyes, if a black person suffered from this affliction, he or she then viewed the world as inherently white and thus worshipped a white God. This weak ideology to them epitomized the"slavish mentality."In addition, the earth was characterized by these sufferers as a place where whites were superior to all, which made the colored man inferior and weak. These powerful leaders knew this mental construction of the world held blacks in a subservient position that had to be dismantled immediately. Peter Tosh and Malcolm X were only two of the many warriors who took it upon themselves to lead this crusade.
For each leader, the reconstruction process of the black identity they adhered to took a different form primarily because of their distinct, personal backgrounds and the leaders who had a tremendous effect upon them. For Peter Tosh, the beauty of the black soul was elevated by Marcus Garvey and the ways of a Ras Tafari at a young age in his life. Peter always claimed to be righteous; righteous to himself, Ills people, and religion. Malcolm X, however, led an early life plagued with crime. In one interview as an adult he reflected upon his teenage years in Harlem by stating,"I was in everything evil you could name"(Playboy, 1963). It was not until a lengthy prison sentence in 1946 that Malcolm found a powerful sense of hope and fulfillment in becoming a Muslim. When he left prison, Malcolm was a completely revised individual from when he entered eight years prior. No longer did he consume drugs and alcohol, mistreat women, work as a pimp, hustle anyone he could, steal, or fight. Instead, he had progressed so far as an individual that Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam called upon Malcolm X to lead a black resurgence (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964).
Yet, despite these ideological differences between Peter Tosh and Malcolm X, these two individuals had many attributes mirroring each other. On paper, their personal histories, goals, personalities, resentments, and dictions all had similar meaning and theme. In person, however, each leader was a unique individual and found a way to effectively communicate to their respective movements. It is for this reason that a presentation of these two great leaders is warranted.
Jamaica and The United States:
A Brief History
The development of Jamaica and America were strikingly similar. Both nations were conquered during roughly the same era by exploitive, European motives (/ / 3mill.bitshop.com/ MiddlePassage / origins. htm). As a result of colonialism, a profound number of nations today are marred by rulers governing corrupt systems, or as Peter Tosh emphatically declared,"shitstems."For Peter Tosh and Malcolm X, Jamaica and the United States were no exceptions.
As an uncolonized world, these two lands were characterized by healthy, indigenous people. The Native Indians of both colonies were thrown into complete disarray by the"discovery"of the New World by Christopher Columbus (or as Peter Tosh asserted Christopher"Come- rob- us") in the 1490's. By 1509, the island of Jamaica became an official Spanish colony, subjecting the native Arawak tribes to slavery (http:the. arc. co. A /arm/ CronOf Colonialism. html). In the time the Spaniards ruled Jamaica, the island's economy grew slowly due to thousands of Arawak deaths. The quick demise of the Arawak Indians was a direct result of brutal slave treatment and the influx of new diseases from the Spaniards to which the natives had no resistance (Takaki, 1993).
As the development of Jamaica was taking place, so too was the colonization of North America by the English. Since the same deadly forces were acting on the Native Indians of America as the Arawak Indians, many natives perished. However, unlike the Arawaks who were confined on an island and could be easily apprehended, the North American Indians were able to flee their oppressive rulers to the western prairies of the continent (Takaki, 1993). This in turn created a steadily decreasing labor population, making field workers an invaluable necessity to the colonists. It was not long after the New World was discovered by Columbus that a highly structured, mass importation of indentured servants was established 3mill.bitshop.com/ MiddlePassage / origins.htm).
At first, these particular servants only came from Europe. People that were characterized as idle, or had been punished by the English government, were literally kidnapped and brought to Virginia to work on the massive tobacco plantations. As an indentured servant, one was usually required to work a few years until he or she earned his or her freedom. However, this system was not efficient in the eyes of the monarchy and plantation owners. It was too costly for both parties to continually have to pay for new servants to be shipped to America. This inefficiency in the indentured servant system was a contributing factor to the eventual deportation of millions of Africans as slaves (Takaki, 1993).
By the middle of the 1600's, Spain had lost control of Jamaica to the English Empire when Sir William Penn forcefully captured the island. In 1670, the island was formally placed under the rule of the British Monarchy (/ / the.arc.co.uk/ arm/ CronOf Colonialism. html). It was at this time in history that the island of Jamaica grew exponentially. The worldwide demand for sugar, cacao, and other agricultural and forest industries grew considerably. With a severe labor shortage, workers became a highly valued commodity in Jamaica also. In order for the crown to make Jamaica a profitable enterprise, slavery had to be implemented. This consequently led to large scale importation of African slaves. Before long, Jamaica became one of the principle slave-trading regions of the world (/ / 3mill.bitshop.com/ MiddlePassage/ origins.htm).
In was not until 1808 that the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade was abolished in the British Empire and the United States. It is important to note, however, that this did not mean the end of slavery; it only meant slaves could not be traded from abroad. Therefore, the continuing enterprise of slavery was fueled from within the United States and Jamaica. To practice slavery on plantations only meant that owners' had to have slaves reproduce on their plantations. In addition, it was not uncommon for slave masters to rape their slaves, which in many cases enlarged the slave population significantly (Takaki, 1993).
The history of Jamaica and the United States fell along such similar lines in terms of slavery and black oppression that it led to a common history in which Tosh and Malcolm were able to arise. It was their similar history that caused Peter Tosh and Malcolm X to have akin animosities towards the white man. However, this historical picture does no justice to the amount of pain the black race has endured and will continue to experience for a long time to come. Peter Tosh and Malcolm X both recognized that they were never slaves in the true sense of the word, but everyday they had to confront the repercussions of their nation's colonial backgrounds. Their life missions were to teach their people that even after 400 Years, blacks were still not free.
Beliefs: Respective to Each Crusader
The history of man has proven that in times of strife and injustice, when people suffer terribly, and when any hope of redemption seems lost, the most charismatic leaders have risen. Peter Tosh and Malcolm X wanted to teach their following that they have been suffering too long, and now was the time that they had to rise as a people to show their true character. For hundreds of years, the white world had a misconstrued notion that the black man was weak, and did not have the understanding and power to govern themselves (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964). Tosh and Malcolm X felt as though the beautiful, black people of this earth had been brainwashed into thinking that their current positions were their fault; that a life of misery was the only thing inevitable; that they were forever subservient to"Babylon,"never to be able to live a righteous life of their own.
Peter Tosh and Malcolm X were tired of witnessing these injustices on a daily basis, while having the majority of public do nothing to liberate themselves. In their respective countries, each was lawfully considered an equal to any other mail, but socially they were ostracized at many levels. This was the hypocrisy each tried to slay. In their eyes, this sanctimony was created through an upper white class that was scarred by colonial, oppressive tendencies. Though this class constituted only a small percentage of the population in Jamaica and the United States, it was this social bracket which was responsible for plight of all Africans. Peter and Malcolm's mission was to prove these people wrong, for this category of people felt blacks were uneducated, unskilled, violent, and dirty. Since this was their perception of blacks, and they controlled the wealth of the nation, whites were able to hold colored people in servitude. Unfortunately, this generalization still holds true today for many colored people in Jamaica and the United States (Takaki, 1993).
To overcome their social conditions, Peter and Malcolm's goals were to instill in their people that they were worthy of credit. To each, a person who did not believe in themselves would forever be a sufferer. People had to"get up and stand up for their rights"if change was to ever occur (Tosh, 1977). But why did people for the most part not"get up and stand up"as Tosh declared and Malcolm desired? Malcolm X believed it was because many of his people fell prey to the"house slave"mentality thereby becoming content with a world of hypocrisy ... Tosh agreed (Reggae Times Newspaper, 1980). Malcolm X made the analogy that what he was looking for were"field Negroes,"or field slaves. These were the captives, who if they had the chance, would run to freedom to separate themselves from the society that held them enslaved. This slave class would do just about anything to attain freedom because through hard work and terrible punishment they truly knew what freedom meant. The"house slave"had no understanding of what a free, decent, and respectable life entailed. This particular slave, relative to a field slave, had superior living quarters, healthier food, and an easier life in general. Basically, a"house Negro"had no reason to complain or rebel from his current condition. According to Malcolm,"If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house slave would say,"What's the matter, boss, we sick?"And if you came to the house Negro and said,"Lets run away, lets escape, lets separate,"the house Negro would look at the field slave and say,"Man, you crazy ... Where is there a better house than this?"(Breitman, 1965). In this quote, Malcolm made the United States the present symbol of slavery. Like Peter, he made his mission to find a new homeland.
Field Negro mentality and the understanding that everybody had to make sacrifices for the good of all was what Peter Tosh and Malcolm X tried to foster in their communities. For Peter Tosh, becoming a Rastafarian and preaching its beliefs seemed like the only solution to overcoming oppression. Malcolm X took a different course, pursuing an answer embedded in the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Though these two groups are not formally affiliated in any manner, the goal of these two bodies was to elevate the standing of their people by demanding justice, promoting knowledge, and declaring a need for the separation of blacks from whites (Malcolm X and Haley 1964, and Barrett, 1997).
As previously mentioned, Peter Tosh believed in himself as a member of the Rastafarian movement. This was a movement that had its origins in the 1930's and was predicated on the belief that one day all black people will reunite in Africa. The rise of this movement during this time period in Jamaica can be correlated to the environment in which it grew.
In 1930, the island was drowning economically. Unemployment was alarmingly high as the nation was experiencing the effects of the Great Depression. Socially and politically, colonialism still gripped the country, making the future of the masses bleak because whites in many ways could control blacks (Barrett, 1997). The common people of Jamaica were suffering terribly and desperately desired a solution. It was at this time when the people of Jamaica became most aware of what Marcus Garvey and the Rastafarian way of life preached: an escape from"Babylon,"and the chance to live free and prosper (Takaki, 1993).
Ethiopia, for Rastafarians, was considered to be the final destination for those who did repatriate to Africa. Marcus Garvey developed this notion while visiting Britain in 1912 when he met other Black African intellectuals (Takaki, 1993). Resettlement was the only answer for Peter Tosh in the long run for he quickly learned as a Rastafarian that the only person a colored man can count on is another colored man. He sang of this theme in songs like,"You Can't Fool Me Again,"to which he was referring to the white man (Tosh, 1969). Malcolm X's response to white men helping the black cause was the following:"The White man's primary interest is not to elevate the thinking of the black people, or to waken black people. The white man is only interested in the black man to the extent that the black man is of use to him. The white man's interest is to make money, to exploit"(Playboy, 1963)."Never in the history books will one find a society were blacks and whites were able to live together in peace with no ill intentions of any kind"(Malcolm X and Haley, 1964). If the black man was to ever succeed, Tosh and Malcolm X knew the black community had to unite.
Being a Rastafarian enabled Peter Tosh to find peace within himself and the power to fight"Babylon."In hearing his voice through songs like"Downpressor Man,"a piece of music that has a definite quality of intimidation, one will quickly come to understand that Peter Tosh was proud of who he was and not hesitant in the slightest to prove himself. He never forgot what the white man's forefathers did to his forefathers, and he made it a point to never let the white man forget either.
Rastafarians to this day believe Haile Selassie, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, to be the Black Messiah who appeared in the flesh for the redemption of all Blacks exiled in the world of white oppressors (Barrett, 1997). It was this living God who gave Peter Tosh the will to fight. Ironically, Haile Selassie saw this group of Rastafarians as an enigma for he was a devout Christian and a regular worshipper at the Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral. It made no sense to this King of Ethiopia to consider himself a God as he worshipped a different being. In fact, Haile Selassie was such a humble man that knowing millions of exiled slaves worshipped him as a God created great distress in him. When the Rastas first heard that their living God denounced their beliefs in him, it only heightened their faith. One Rastaman appropriately quoted the Bible when he claimed,"he that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased"(Barrett, 1997). In addition, Marcus Garvey was responsible for a prophesy which depicted a black God born in Africa. Rastafarians, including Peter Tosh, interpreted the birth of Haile Selassie as Garvey's premonition coming true.
For Peter Tosh and other Rasta Jamaicans, acknowledging the reality of a living, black God from Africa gave them an extreme amount of pride. Even in modern times, the relics of colonialism (like segregation and racism) have persuaded black people to see themselves as inferior. Now Haile Selassie gave all Rastafarians a reason to believe in each other.
Just as Haile Selassie, Marcus Garvey, and the Rastafarian way of life instilled hope in Jamaican Africans, so too did the Nation of Islam and the teachings of Elijah Muhammad for African Americans. Though there are commonalities amongst these groups, each was a separate, distinct body that adhered to different principles and appealed to culturally different people.
The Nation of Islam (though this was not the group's title upon its conception) was founded in the United States in 1931 by Wallace Fard Muhammad, an orthodox Muslim born in Mecca. He established this group in the United States in Detroit, Michigan where he had a following that consisted of mostly black migrants from the southern United States. From its commencement, Fard promised that if his following"would heed his teachings and learn the truth about themselves, they would overcome their white 'slave masters' and be restored to a position of dignity and primacy of the peoples of the world."In 1934, however, Wallace Fard Muhammad mysteriously disappeared and was succeeded by Elijah Muhammad. It was at this point that the organization became officially titled The Nation of Islam (http:/ /www.noi.org/).
Malcolm X was saved the day a devout Muslim approached him in prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts to speak of the Islamic religion. As a young, confused man, he was at first extremely skeptical of this faith for he did not believe in anyone but himself when it came to survival. However, his new found friend instilled in Malcolm the importance of education if he was to ever succeed in this world. With time, Malcolm quickly began to read more and more books on numerous subjects, giving him an appreciation for the glory of black history (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964). Malcolm attained such a large degree of knowledge while incarcerated that when he reflected upon those years he once said,"In 1946, 1 was sentenced to eight to ten years in Cambridge, Massachusetts"(Playboy, 1963). By this he was insinuating that he was sentenced to Harvard for"hard labor."
While in prison, Malcolm actually wrote to his family and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad on a daily basis to report on his condition. At one point, Elijah Muhammad even responded to one of Malcolm's letters, signing off as the Messenger of Allah (the sole deity of the Islamic faith). This naturally manifested Malcolm's desire to attain a position of significance once he reentered society. By the time Malcolm left prison, Elijah Muhammad was so impressed with Malcolm's progression and dedication as a scholar to the faith that he appointed him a minister to Temple Eleven in Harlem, New York (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964). As a preacher, Malcolm taught the ways of Islam like few others could. When he spoke he made the white man quiver, and made the black man determined through enlightenment (Los Angeles Times, 1992). As such, he became an intricate part of the development of this organization at a national and world-wide scale.
At first, his audiences were minimal. But, as time passed and Malcolm became more aggressive in recruiting a following, the number of brother and sisters grew considerably. When Malcolm sermonized, he spoke of many themes that resembled the desires of a rastaman in Jamaica. First, he could not stress enough the importance of self reliance. In Peter Tosh and Malcolm X's minds, if black men were ever to become free, they needed to learn to stand on their own. In times of trouble, blacks had to rely on their own community for aid. Second, Malcolm continuously emphasized that a lifetime of learning and personal growth was necessary. As an uneducated man, one only stands as a"kind of pacing, powerless animal"until he or she ascertains enough to become an"angel of intellectual might"(Los Angeles Times, 1992). Thirdly, Malcolm and the Nation of Islam spoke of the value of having a"don't tread on me"mentality (Rather, 1992). This was characteristic of Peter Tosh too, for even though he was inherently kind, he at times lived by this statement (Reggae Times Newspaper, 1980). In"Stepping Razor"he tells his listeners,"Don't you watch my size, I'm dangerous, yes I'm dangerous!"
Every time Peter Tosh and Malcolm X held their respective services they always displayed their determination to the congregation as people who could not to be shoved aside. They were examples who wanted others to emulate them. There is no doubt that these men made everyone realize the value of freedom, and that giving up their lives was a small price to pay for the good of their brotherhood.
Peter Tosh versus Malcolm X:
Lands Apart ... Though They Were One
Peter Tosh and Malcolm X endured harsh childhoods, full of experiences that would shape them as the men they were soon to become. Both leaders, during their early lives, did not have parents to guide them. Peter Tosh, who was born Winston Hubert McIntosh on October 19, 1944, in Grange Hill, never had the presence of a father figure. In fact, Peter never met his father until he was ten years old. Fortunately, his aunt Loretta Campbell served as a second mother and helped Peter continue his education (Steffens, 1997). Malcolm X's childhood had a strong resemblance to Tosh's. Born as Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska in May of 1945, he matured during a period characterized by severe tensions between whites and blacks. As a youngster, Malcolm quickly realized the state of the black position in American society, for his father was brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964).
By the time each entered their teenage years, Peter and Malcolm developed personalities that would carry through for the rest of their lives. Peter, as a student of music, moved to the city of Kingston to further his talents. In a short time, he met Nesta Robert Marley and Neville O'Reilly Livingston (Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer). Together, they soon went on to lead the most influential reggae band the world had ever heard, the Wailers (Steffens, 1997). Through their music, they helped to bring the black plight to the forefront of Jamaican politics, for they sang of injustices associated with"Babylon."Malcolm X, however, led a completely different lifestyle from Tosh's when he chose a city atmosphere to live as well. At the age of fourteen he left his family in Nebraska, and was able to attain a job aboard a train. Unlike Peter, who knew his future was in music, Malcolm had no idea of where he was going. While working for the commuter train he made his home in Harlem, where he quickly began to satisfy himself through prostitutes, drugs, and alcohol (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964).
It was not until after Malcolm grew up in Harlem, an environment in his eyes that was responsible for his incarceration, did Malcolm begin to reflect on society as Tosh would do years later. just as Peter Tosh joined a group to make a difference for black people (Bob Marley and the Wailers), so too did Malcolm X (The Nation of Islam). However, as their determined views began to manifest within themselves, they both realized a split from their respective groups was in their best interest. It was their militant character, choice of diction, views, ability to appeal to sufferers, and their attempts to internationalize their respective movement as individual leaders that possessed the strongest commonalities between these men.
As leaders, these men were fierce. They wanted nothing shy of justice for all black people, and were willing to confront anyone who stood in their way. Many of Peter Tosh's lyrics epitomize this idea, including songs like"Here Comes the judge"where he declares he would hang historical heroes like Sir Francis Drake and Christopher Columbus by the tongue for the murder of fifty million black people without a cause. Malcolm X asserted the same theme when he said,"I am a Muslim, because it's a religion that teaches you an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. It teaches you to respect everybody, and treat everybody right. But it also teaches you if someone steps on your toe, chop off their foot. And I carry around my religious axe all the time"(Homecoming Speech, 1964).
Just from these particular quotes you can see that Peter Tosh and Malcolm X had very little sympathy for criminals against their race. At times, they asserted their views too aggressively, causing"Babylon"to react with beatings and death threats. Peter Tosh was once brutally beaten by police after he made a highly controversial speech that hectored Prime Minister Michael Manley and his rightwing opponent, Edward Seaga, at the"One Love Peace Concert"in April of 1972 (Steffens, 1997). Malcolm experienced the same type of agonizing punishments; the worst of which was when his house was bombed. Fortunately, nobody was killed in the explosion (Malcolm X and Haley, 1964).
Peter Tosh and Malcolm X spoke in this confrontational tone and style for a reason. They were both fighting tremendous forces and had to be assertive if their efforts were to have any effects. A keen sense of phrasing the English language helped to make their points more effective. Peter Tosh had a cunning ability to manipulate language in a way that allowed him to create puns that caused a stronger sting for the white man. By the end of his career, he had an extensive arsenal to which he could use in speech and song. To illustrate, instead of Peter referring to the government as a"system full of corrupt politics,"he would call that entity a"shitstem full of politricks."Another example is his classic song"Downpressor Man,"which takes the place of"Oppressor Man"because Peter saw the white man as one who never pushed"Op"(up) the black man, but only held him"Down"(Snider, 1998). Malcolm X knew the importance of developing such a scheme as well, and therefore he mastered the use of analogies. A typical quote might sound like the following where he is addressing the United State's hypocrisy by asserting his preference towards lying integrationists over racists:"I highly prefer the racists. I'd rather walk among rattlesnakes, whose constant rattle warns me where they are, than among those Northern snakes who grin and make you forget you're still in a snake pit"(Playboy, 1963).
Phrases and quotes of this nature instilled confidence in their respective following, especially among the lower classes who suffered terribly. People who were in low positions thoroughly enjoyed Peter Tosh and Malcolm X's presence because they witnessed their integrity, intelligence, and faith as black men. These men truly imparted a sense of hope to the common man in that they were shaking"Babylon."For this reason, their capacity to communicate in a common jargon became an underlying quality to these men.
As their messages spread throughout Jamaica and the United States, they each realized the astounding potential of an international movement. They thoroughly believed that if the people began to lead, the authorities of world politics would inevitably follow. Peter Tosh's forum was of course his stage, a setting that enabled his music to awaken blacks and whites to current worldwide oppression. He continuously tried to instill the motivation he had as a Rastafarian to his listeners. Through songs like"Arise Blackman"and"Black Dignity,"Tosh sings of the need to rise, or suffer the consequences by living in a world characterized by destructive Biblical metaphors. Quoting the song"Arise Blackman,"he predicts that if no strides are taken towards progression,"the moon shall turn into blood, while the rivers shall turn into floods, and the sun will never shine."Preaching black dignity was how Peter Tosh and Malcolm X tried to change the world.
Malcolm X, during his years as a preacher to large, black communities in big cities, began so see the advantages of incorporating as many people, whites included, as he could in the black movement. After he was ostracized from the Nation of Islam for developing this new ideology (and in part because Muslims felt he was overshadowing the Honorable Elijah Muhammad), Malcolm began to appeal to non-racist whites, and even made a motion to indict the American government before the United Nations for crimes against humanity. At a meeting of the Organization of Black Unity in Cairo he declared,
"We will work with anyone, with any group, no matter what their colour is, as long as they are genuinely interested in taking the type of steps necessary to bring an end to the injustices that black people in this country are afflicted by. No matter what their colour is, what their political, economic, or social philosophy is, as long as their aims and objectives are in the direction of destroying the vulturous system that has been sucking the blood of black people in this country, they're all right with me"(1964).
just as both men were beginning to effectively elevate black issues to an international level, there lives were brutally curtailed. Unfortunately for Peter Tosh, he was not in the best of conditions when he was murdered. In the years just prior to his slaying, he became saturated in legal technicalities concerning his music. Record companies, like Tuff Gong, and ex-managers were obsessively trying to steal what little money he had through the courts. For that reason he became"disillusioned in life, unhappy, and tired of fighting"(Sheridan, 1987). His ending was tragic because this dignified man, who fought so hard and gave all he had to his people, was taken out by one of his brethren. Dennis"Leppo"Lobban is the malefactor Jamaican authorities believe took Tosh's life. Lobban was a well known criminal from Tosh's ghetto days who borrowed money from Peter regularly. This murder was his final thank you to Peter Tosh (Melody Maker, 1995).
The night Malcolm X died, February 21, 1965, he was to make a speech to the Muslim Mosque Inc. concerning the recent attacks on his life and who he thought were responsible. Upon walking towards the podium he was horrifically murdered before his congregation and family. Like Tosh's killers, Malcolm's murderers were once friends; they were members of The Nation of Islam.
If one had to guess how these two soldiers were to be killed one would have undoubtedly said"Babylon"would play a role. Either the white man or some"shitstem"would inevitably take their lives. This would have been a plausible prediction for both were antagonizing vicious societies with their militant personalities. However, this was not how history played out as we now know. The forces that ended their lives were not of"Babylon,"but from within their own communities. Peter Tosh and Malcolm X thought the world of hypocrisy needed to end between blacks and whites. How ironic that the brethren who once cheered for them only later took their lives.
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