Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Rev Earl Thames' strange account

Published:Monday | January 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:The Rev Earl Thames gave a fascinating but strange account of how Jamaica's annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast came about following the violent general election of 1980.

After having read his article, published as Public Affairs in The Sunday Gleaner of January 18, 2015, I am left to conclude that he is the victim of either faulty memory or muddled, imprecise writing. A check with the Gleaner's archives should set the record straight.

There are at least two problematic areas in the article, as published. According to Rev Thames' chronology and in referring to the 1980 general election:

"The factions were eventually persuaded to recognise that the election was over, that the population had to be reconciled to the results, and normality had to be restored for the future of the nation.

A special service was arranged at the Halibethan Church in West Kingston that was led by Claudius Massop, who was the community leader of the faction alleged to be aligned to the Jamaica Labour Party. The leader of the faction aligned to the People's National Party, 'Bucky' Thompson, members of the National Committee and the political leaders were all there.

THE FIRST PEACE TREATY

At that service, the first peace treaty was signed, and it involved not only the warring factions, but also the political leaders of both parties. It was a historic occasion, as it set the tone for subsequent truces that were signed afterwards. The main aim of the National Committee for Prayer and Reconciliation had been achieved." Emphasis mine, on that last sentence.

I would suggest, however, that for future reference, Rev Thames revisit his notebooks, consult colleagues still alive and possessed of their mental faculties and check available institutional archives to give a more accurate picture of Jamaican history.

By several well-established accounts, including an extensive investigative exposé by The Gleaner, Claudius Massop was killed, along with two colleagues, by the police in February 1979. So, if Rev Thames is implying that Massop led the service at the Halibethan Church - then it must have been a relative, not the late don/community leader or his duppy. If he was also saying that Massop was at one time leader of the Halibethan Church, relatives and associates of the late Bishop Veronica Carter would also want to correct his understanding of recent Corporate Area history and sociology.

Second, I find it curious that Aston 'Bucky Marshall' Thompson would seek, according to Rev Thames' narrative, to "correct" him about how the "peace initiatives" and signing involving him and Massop came about. It is odd because the major initiative involving Massop and Thompson took place in January 1978 - long before the prayer breakfast initiative!

So, I really do hope that Rev Thames' recollection of God speaking to him about establishing a national committee for prayer and reconciliation is more accurate than the other aspects of his Sunday account would suggest.

COLIN STEER