Maroon leaders reject cult practices

The Yamaye Council of Indigenous Leaders (YCOIL) has rejected the cult practice at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries in Paradise, St James, which resulted in the death of three people just over one week ago.

The throats of two members were slit during a ritual and a third person was killed in a confrontation with the police.

“This situation that has taken place, it is something that is disturbing to us. As a collective, it is something that is disturbing to us and we are concerned about the repercussions and the views that may come from that as we seek to have our rights and practices established and accepted by the wider society,” Chief Kalaan Kaiman (Robert Pairman) of Yamaye Guani Taino People told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

Pairman said that the exposed and unorthodox culture at Pathways International and the public outrage that followed have the potential to spill over and disrupt the strides being made by the Maroons.

“There are concerns now about gatherings of people in white, which should not be the case,” declared Pairman.

“So, as it stands today, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this and try and bring some clarity as it relates to our perspective. In our system, every person has a way in their family that they are able to connect with our ancestors, our elders. Catholicism taught us words like saints and angels, but whatever is the terminology you want to use, it is something that sits with everyone,” he said.

Forty-two members of the congregation — 31 women and 11 men — as well as 14 children were taken into custody following last Sunday’s incident. The children were placed in State care, while the women and seven of the men were charged with breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act and granted bail. Four of the men, including Smith, remain in custody.

A victim of the bizarre ritual, who requested anonymity, told the Jamaica Observer that members of the Maroon community were also present.

“We were there, everybody came the morning. The Maroon people came, the minister of finance for the Maroons,” he said.

“Him (Smith) mek we wait outside. Him seh we can stop now for a minute and get water break because we were all on fasting. After, he came out and said there would have been baptism, so a lot of people got baptised on Saturday,” he said.

“And when they got baptised he came around to the front and he was doing some form of ritualistic thing where he placed his hands on the Maroon’s hand and another minister’s that were there from other churches.”

However, Pairman explained that there is a group of people operating within St James purporting to be Maroons, with some of its members posing as leaders of the group.

“As it stands today, for the Yamaye Council of Indigenous Leaders, we don’t have anyone with a title of a finance minister. The public should be aware that there are individuals affiliated with Horace ‘LA’ Lewis who are utilising Maroon IDs that are not acknowledged by the Yamaye Council of Indigenous Leaders.

“That means that they are not acknowledged by Moore Town Maroons, Scott’s Hall Maroons, Charles Town Maroons, and Yamaye Guani Taino People of Jamaica. And I know that, earlier in the year, Chief Currie of Accompong had put out a statement regarding that as well.

“Mr Horace ‘LA’ Lewis is not affiliated, a member of, or authorised to represent Maroon Indigenous Women’s Circle, Moore Town Maroons, Charles Town Maroons, Scott’s Hall Maroons, or Yamaye Guani in any matters whatsoever. Any birth certificates, identification cards or materials distributed by him is not endorsed or accepted by our communities. Any person dealing with him shall do so at his own risk and responsibility.”

Pairman further argued that people ought to exercise sound judgement and ensure there are “checks and balances” to prevent them from falling in cult traps.

“So, you don’t have a scenario for us where everyone is going to one person in a community or in a space. If something is wrong, there’s something that you learn from your family or probably an elder in your community. There is no structured school or tiers and that has helped up us to keep our circle going where everyone can see everyone. There’s transparency, and there’s understanding,” he said.

“It comes down to understanding. If I understand that the person who is leading this gathering today is a human being, and they have flaws and issues, my approach and my acceptance of the message they are sending, I am going to have to check it in my spirit. I will not blindly follow it. It has to sit well with my spirit as well. My spirit has to accept it.”

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