Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Was it Massop’s duppy, Rev Thames?

Published:Saturday | January 31, 2015 | 12:01 AM

For the life of me I cannot understand why the Rev Earl Thames insists on presenting an account of Jamaican history that suggests a duppy was a signatory to a peace treaty and participant in a peace march.

We know that the dead frequently vote in elections, but signing documents is a new one. I do not wish to prolong a debate with him over his recollection of peace treaties signed among gunmen in West Kingston after the 1980 general election and how those are related to the launch of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast (NLPB). However, some of his claims don't pass the fact-check test.

Also, Rev Thames seems to have misread my letter of January 19. I did not question his narrative about being inspired after a time of prayer to launch a National Leadership Prayer Breakfast after the 1980 election. What I questioned (as did other online readers) was his placing West Kingston don Claudie Massop at post-October 1980 election events, especially those that took place after the launch of the NLPB.

In his response to my challenges, he stated in his letter of January 28 that it is "incomprehensible" that it could be claimed that Massop was killed in 1979, when he was a signatory to a 1980 peace treaty "at his church". He added: "Evidently, a mistake has been made." Yes, sir, but by whom?

Here is a suggestion, Rev Thames. Ask the very helpful archivists at the National Library at the Institute of Jamaica on East Street in Kingston or visit The Gleaner Company's at North Street. Ask either of them to produce the front pages of The Sunday Gleaner editions of February 1979 (I don't have the exact date) showing the dead body of Massop on a concrete slab at the Madden's Funeral Parlour in Kingston.

The picture had crayon circles around bullet marks under his armpit. These marks were done by a Gleaner investigative team, which I believe included columnist David DaCosta, to support a theory that Massop was not killed in a shoot-out, as claimed by the police at the time, but that his arms and those of his two other colleagues, Finson and Fraser, were up in the air at the time of their being shot.


Other claims


There are yet other questionable claims by Rev Thames, such as the latest that the peace truce of January 1978 involving Massop and Aston 'Bucky Marshall' Thompson was "effected by the security forces"; and that he was informed by Monsignor (who was then Father) Richard Albert of the St Anne's Roman Catholic Church in West Kingston that Massop was leader of the Halibethan Church in Tivoli.

Now those are really roll-around-on-the-floor, laugh-out-loud statements. Here again, we have an oddity. The public records show that the priest who served St Anne's between 1973 and 1989 was Father Alwyn Harry. When was Father Albert at St Anne's? Public records show that Albert came to Jamaica in 1976, went to Bridgeport, St Catherine, and in, 1982, was transferred to the Waterhouse/Riverton City sections of the Corporate Area.

I understand that one Samuel Dreckett, also known as 'Maawga Man', was co-leader with Veronica Carter at the Halibethan Church for many years. Is it possible that Rev Thames is mixing up Maawga Man and Massop?

But so far, there are no claims that Dreckett was a don/gunman. So from whence comes the claim that Massop was leader of the Halibethan Church?


Colin Steer