Jawara McIntosh was only seven years old when his father, international Reggae Icon Peter Tosh, was murdered. Nevertheless, Jawara, heavily influenced by his father’s immortal music while growing up, became a musician and advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Now 33 years later, Jawara McIntosh is also dead, after he was brutally beaten while serving time in a US prison on ganja possession charges.
The young McIntosh, popularly known as “Tosh 1” was 40 years old when he succumbed to his injuries on Friday. He was bedridden since February 2017, after being viciously attacked and left unconscious by an inmate while he was serving a six-month jail term in Bergen County Jail in New Jersey. He is survived by his mother, wife, siblings, and four children Jahzarah, Jeremaiah, Nazare, and Azariah.
His sister Niambe McIntosh said in an Instagram post yesterday: “Jawara, you are a true soldier & we are blessed to have you as a son, brother, husband, father & friend. Please hug & kiss our ancestors for the family. Your legacy lives on through your four children. #JusticeForJawara.”
The morbid irony of Tosh 1’s death as a result of ganja legislation, which both he and his dad spent significant portions of their lives and music careers advocating against, was not lost on social media users.
“Like his father, Jawara McIntosh, the son of Reggae legend, Peter Tosh, suffered tremendous brutality which all evolved from Babylon’s unjust war against the consumers of marijuana,” Kelvin Andalou tweeted.
“Cannabis is no reason to be incarcerated; no reason to have your life stunted. #JusticeForJawara,” added Evergreen Cannabis.
When Peter Tosh recorded his 1976 mega-hit Legalize It, Jawara was not yet born. Yet the soulful tune thrived through the decades, strengthened under the breaths of Rastafarians and other resistant herbalists, to grow into a chant against anti-marijuana legislation in the 21st century.
“Some call it tamjee/ Some call it the weed/ Some call it marijuana/ Some of them call it ganja/ Never mind, got to legalize it/ And don’t criticize it/ Legalize it, yeah yeah.” -Peter Tosh
Tosh-1 was actually working on new music, and was planning to release a remake of Legalize It after he served his six months in prison, RollingStone reported.
“Brian Latture, manager of the Peter Tosh estate, had been working with Jawara on recording new versions of some of his father’s songs, as well as new work. The plan had been to release a remix of “Legalize It” on April 20th, a rallying cry for a new generation of cannabis activists, with special guests,” the magazine said.
But the musician’s plans to release music on 4/20, a day used to celebrate Cannabis use globally, morphed into a day of fighting for #JusticeforJawara for the family. Since the heinous incident, the Tosh family has taken legal action against the state for failing to protect McIntosh’s human rights while incarcerated. They have also been actively lobbying for the decriminalization of marijuana in the United States, and removal of non-violent persons held on marijuana charges from facilities that house violent criminals.
But even when confined to a bed with limited mobility, Tosh 1 was still his father’s son – a rebel with a cause. “He hasn’t forgotten how to smoke… he’s not always super sharp with it, but by the fifth puff he’s got it down,” his sister Niambe told Forbes.
And while the legislation and issues surrounding ganja, police brutality, and equal rights and justice have come a long way since Peter Tosh was active, the family continues to fight for more to be done. The baton has seemingly been passed to Niambe, as she has been the most vocal of the Tosh group on social issues in recent times.