Mon | Jan 24, 2022

Review obeah legislation

Published:Tuesday | May 16, 2017 | 2:31 PM


While the minister of justice is now looking at reviewing the outdated fines still on the books, it would be good of him to address outdated laws, some of which are not only a carryover from slavery but a perpetuation of it. For example, the Obeah Act. This law was deliberately implemented to wipe out all vestiges of African religion and culture that were brought to Jamaica.

Prior to baptism by the pastors of the white Western religions, Africans had to renounce their principles, which included any participation in obeah practices.

The Obeah Act defines "a person practising obeah" as any person who, "for the purpose of frightening any person, uses, or pretends to use, any occult means, or pretends to possess any supernatural power or knowledge".

Most pastors that I see on television pretend to possess supernatural powers, and frighten their congregations, with a permanent hell fire ordained by God.

If that definition is bad, let's look at the definition for "instrument of obeah". The law states it "means anything used, or intended to be used by a person, and pretended by such person to be possessed of any occult or supernatural power".

So, do these people who use the Bible to ward off evil spirits realise that they are using an 'instrument of obeah'? Any person practising obeah shall be liable to imprisonment for 12 months, along with whipping.

From now on, I will have to be careful when I burn incense in my bookshop, especially frankincense and myrrh.