No to Obeah!
Public respond negatively to senators seeking to decriminalise the practice
Diandra Grandison, STAR Writer
When news broke that Senators Lambert Brown and Tom Tavares-Finson were planning a joint motion seeking to decriminalise the practice of obeah in Jamaica, many Jamaicans were outraged.
University of the West Indies student Max told THE STAR, “You mad! Obeah should remain unlawful in this society, not even a go guh biblical with it, but experience can show that it does not have a positive impact on society; dark magic can never be good for us. It will have a negative impact if it is legalised. No to obeah!”
Educator Kerry-Ann expressed, “shocking, why should it be decriminalised when it has a negative impact on society. It should remain as is, we already have little or no moral standing so this will only make the situation worse.”
For 23-year-old Rashawn, the proposal to decriminalise obeah has come at the wrong time.
“I think the proposal to amend the obeah law is ill-timed, because as a country we have far more pressing issues that demand urgent attention, like our economy that appears to be on the verge of collapse, and crime,” he said.
The Church was also very vocal with their displeasure at this impending debate.
Welesley Blair, bishop at the Faith Temple in Bayside, Portmore, St Catherine, expressed with fervour, “thou shall not suffer a witch to live! It is a dreadful thing for one to practise, it can hurt others, I am totally against it!”
Bishop Blair sought to disprove claims that obeah is a part of Jamaica’s culture leftover from slavery. “Obeah is not just attached to slavery, obeah is older than slavery, it has been around since creation, so we can’t use it as part of our culture.”
But while most Jamaicans are seeing red after the announcement, Professor Aba, head of the House of Power Society: Home of Jamaican Obeah, Voodoo and Black Magic Spells, told THE STAR, “as high priest and the head of House of Power Society, I was very delighted and hopeful after the announcement people will have an interest in Jamaican spirituality. Citizens worldwide have made contact with me in relation to this religion.”
He continued, “If it becomes legal, spiritualists in Jamaica could set up shops similar to what psychics do in New York and other areas in the US and become reachable to a global clientele base.”
Professor Aba also stated that he thinks if amended it will lessen the discrimination against those persons who believe in and practise obeah.
” A lot of people still have some reservations about the practice of the obeah religion or any kind of religion that is not mainstream. Individuals need to understand that obeah is not all about putting curse/spells on others, but that it can help with overall prosperity.”
He continued, “we need to move away from the whole discrimination of any kind of religion, people should be free to practise whatever kind of religion they choose.”
The 1898 Obeah Act states, any person convicted of participating in the religious practice “shall be liable to imprisonment, with or without hard labour for a period not exceeding 12 months, and in addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, to whipping: Provided such whipping shall be carried out subject to the provisions of the Flogging Regulation Act”.