Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Oh, my Gosse! Bogle vs Maroon again

Published:Saturday | January 22, 2022 | 12:06 AM


DAVE GOSSE, director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies, The University of the West Indies, Mona, in his article Religion and Identity Politics in Jamaica said, “Paul Bogle concocted rum with gunpowder and gave his special followers . . .’ as part of a ceremony in which they also kissed the Bible. To support his claim, he quoted a 2015 Gleaner article which documents “the eyewitness testimony of a policeman, James Foster, who was sent to arrest Bogle in Stony Gut” (January 16). Oh my Gosse, another rehashing of a Bogle vs Maroon story.

My dear Gosse, it is never good to rely on the testimony of one witness only. The Bible requires at least two witnesses to validate a testimony (Deut 17:6, 19: 15).

Furthermore, the Jamaica Constabulary Force was established in 1867 and not in 1865 when Foster went to arrest Bogle. Therefore, this policeman was not like our present good, good, credible policeman.

So, who is this so-called policeman that Gosse is relying on? It is known that Maroons were sent to arrest Bogle, so that James Foster could have been a Maroon. It means that Foster could be classified as a hostile witness. Maroons were hostile towards Bogle.

Additionally, it is known that Bogle and his followers owned no guns and fired no guns in the 1865 protest (See my book, The Cross and the Machete). In any case, which European colonialist would sell Bogle gunpowder?

According to Gosse, the policeman saw rum and gunpowder. However, did Foster taste the gunpowder and taste the rum to verify these ingredients? Foster made one short visit to Bogle’s chapel and was able to make such claims. That was an incredible concoction which stretches reality and would not stand up in today’s courts.

Ever wondered what happens when you mix rum and gunpowder together?

At least Gosse did not quote Martin Henry, the late Gleaner columnist who said of 1865, “Negro women sat on the corpses and gashed them with broken glasses. The men opened the skulls, scooped out the brains into calabashes, mixed them with rum and drank the mixture in the Baptist chapel . . .” ( Gleaner October 16, 2003).

It seems that there is an effort to create the identity of black Baptists to be one of vile and violence, which is not how European Baptists are portrayed or consistent with my research.