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Selfish, Sell-Out Or Self-Interest: It’s Time To Forgive The Maroons

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In observation of Heritage Month (October), the St. Thomas Co-operative Credit Union (STCCU) Limited partnered with the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the Afrikan Heritage Development Association (AHDA) to host the first STCCU Paul Bogle Commemorative Lecture.

The Lecture, delivered by the Reverend Dr Devon Dick, Pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church on the topic, “Role of the Maroons in the Morant Bay Freedom War”, was an attempt at an objective examination and explanation of the actions of the Maroons leading up to the capture and execution of Paul Bogle and others in 1865 and to call for reconciliation and healing of the broken relationship and perception of the seeming betrayal by the Maroons in Jamaica.

Reverend Dick recalled Bogle’s intentions for reconciliation in his pursuit of justice, equality and freedom as demonstrated in the nature of scope of 1865 asked for the forgiveness of the Maroons and respect of their contributions to the resistance struggle. “We do not ban Charles Dickens’ books or Alfred Tennyson’s poems because they supported Governor (Eyre) over Bogle and his followers. We do not avoid church because many churchmen of that era supported Eyre over Bogle and the native Baptists. We do not blame security forces who engage in police brutality at the behest of oppressive states. Maroons should have done better, but they were acting under orders”, Reverend Dick stated.

“Let us forgive…and reconcile….There is no space for divide and rule at a time when poverty, unemployment and income inequalities are increasing”, Reverend Dick encouraged.

Recalling the tone and activities of 1865 leading up to the execution, Reverend Dick made his five-point delivery under the headings of Escapee, Enforcer, Entrapment, Enigma and End Game at all times emphasising Bogle’s peaceful advocacy and liberative resistance.

Reverend Dick detailed the actions of the Maroons who were escaped slaves but became enforcers for the British by returning run-away slaves in exchange for being semi-autonomous and formally recognised by the British. This deed weakened the resistance of the Africans causing both Africans and Maroons to be entrapped by the British. The sequence of events that followed led to the capture and execution of Bogle and his followers and the Maroons being blamed for the bloodshed in St. Thomas.
A spirited panel discussion followed the Lecture with deliberations from Colonels Sterling, Lumsden and Prehay of the Moore Town, Charles Town and Scott’s Hall Maroons respectively, with Colonel Lumsden vehemently disagreeing with the portrayal of Bogle as a freedom fighter with no murderous intentions. The expert panel also included Dr Daive Dunkley of the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of the West Indies.

The STCCU Paul Bogle Commemorative Lecture is another initiative by the STCCU, the only financial institution with its roots in the parish as the STCCU continues to increase its presence in the parish and to identify and promote ‘things St. Thomas’ in order to strengthen the parish’s cultural, economic and social base.

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Written by jamarch