Monday, January 1, 2018

The Theory behind Peter Tosh’s killing

I am a reggae fan. I prefer reggae from the golden generation. Of this generation, I consider Winston Hubert Macintosh, better known as Peter Tosh, as one of the most extraordinary artists ever to walk the soil of this earth. It is the reason why my attention is drawn to anything that mentions his name. It was in so doing that I found a video that chronicled how he was killed in September of 1987.

Tosh was killed by a friend named, Dennis “Leppo” Loban. It is said that Leppo went to Tosh’s house alongside two other men and asked for money, holding a gun at Tosh and all others who were in the house. When Tosh could not provide the money, Leppo shot him in the head, twice. 

Tosh had gone to jail a couple of times for “ganja possession.” It is generally believed that the actual motives for his prison terms were often the constant criticism of the Establishment. It was while serving one of such sentences that he met Leppo. 

In the video, Tosh’s friends who were with him at the time of the murder said that Leppo had taken advantage of Tosh’s generosity. Every two or three weeks, he came around, asking for hand-outs. One day, sadly, he came with a gun to ask for the money, when he couldn’t get it, he then shot the singer.  

A Jamaican man, who was asked to give his opinion about the incident, said that, prior to Tosh’s death, a police random search of a car in which Tosh and friends were driving, uncovered an unlicensed gun. Of the friends that were in the car, there was Leppo. But, instead of Tosh going to jail, Leppo was the one who, in the end,  went to jail. After his prison term, Leppo came out feeling bitter because Tosh couldn’t adequately compensate him for the sacrifice he had made for him.   

The Theory

When Leppo agreed to serve the sentence, he was hoping that, in return, Tosh will make him a wealthy man. But, Tosh felt that Leppo was doing that to show appreciation for favours he had done him in the past and those to come, after Leppo would have finished serving the sentence. The misunderstanding came because the covenant was not clearly spelt out in writing; Leppo simply assumed he would be made wealthy.  But when he came out and all that the singer could do was to give him enough to last for two weeks, each time he came, Leppo felt betrayed. Then he said things that hurt and ended the friendship. The singer, seeing how the friendship had ended because of money, went on to record the song, Lessons in My Life, which was released in the No Nuclear War album. Some lines of the song went thus:

I've learned some lessons in my life
Always be careful of mankind
They'll make you promises today
But tomorrow they change their mind...

...I've learned some lessons in my life
Always be careful of my friends
Money can make friendship end

But I'm an upfull man
And I love upfull people
I'm a progressive man
And I love progressive people
I'm an honest man
I love honest people
I'm an intelligent man
And I love intelligent people

When Leppo heard the song, he felt Tosh was referring to him. And, considering the sacrifice he made for him, he felt the betrayal had gone past the red line.

Leppo’s trial lasted for only eleven minutes. He was sentenced to death, but later commuted to life imprisonment.

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