Culture Minister Olivia Grange, has announced that the Reggae legend, Fredrick “Toots” Hibbert, will be laid to rest in National Heroes Park.
The thanksgiving service for the internationally acclaimed reggae star, the frontman of the group Toots and the Maytals, was held on Thursday but the internment had to be halted abruptly when the family discovered that they were not in possession of the burial order.
According to Grange, the burial at National Heroes Park had become possible due to the generosity of the family of the late Charles Hyatt — the actor, broadcaster, director and author — whose remains were due to be re-interred in the last burial spot for cultural icons at National Heroes Park.
“At the time of his death in January 2007, the family of our dear Charles Hyatt had requested that he be buried in National Heroes Park, but they were told that there were no more spaces available and he was instead interred at the Meadowrest Memorial Park in St. Catherine.”
The Culture Minister said it was later discovered that there was one final burial space available in the relevant section at National Heroes Park and the government went back to the family who decided that they would exhume Mr Hyatt’s remains and re-inter them in National Heroes Park.
She added that in light of the current need for a suitable burial place for the late Toots Hibbert – “the Hyatt family has generously consented to allow the Reggae legend to be interred in the final burial spot in the section for cultural icons in National Heroes Park.”
“I have received the approval of the Prime Minister Andrew Holness, to proceed with plans for the interment of Toots Hibbert in National Heroes Park. I deeply appreciate the consideration of the Hyatt family in this matter,” Grange said.
Toots Hibbert is one of the pioneers of Reggae Music, who has also been credited with giving the genre its name.
“He is a national treasure whose humble demeanour and affable personality belied his towering global stature,” the Culture Minister noted.
She said that the internment in National Heroes Park will suitably memorialise his contribution to Jamaica and reignite the unity in his family, among his peers and his fans which is required at this time.
The Culture Minister also endorsed plans to erect a monument to Toots in his home town, adding that the current situation has highlighted the need for the establishment of a Memorial Park for the interment of Jamaica’s Cultural Icons.
“We started work on the establishment of this Memorial Park in the Bruce Golding Administration. So far we have developed a concept, identified a location where the relevant tests, including soil testing, have been completed. We will now move to develop the designs and budget to present a detailed proposal to the Cabinet. I commit to ensuring that the late Charles Hyatt is memorialised in the proposed park,” Grange said.
Toots died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11, nearly two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Among the other cultural icons interred at the National Heroes’ Park are reggae singer Dennis Brown, Olympian Herb McKinley, artist Edna Manley, folklorist Louise Bennett Coverley (Miss Lou) and actor Ranny Williams.