Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 07, 2006
obeah in the court

In The Beat, vol. 25, no. 2, the great scholar of reggae, Roger Steffens, reports on seemingly supernatural activity at the recent trial in London of Aston "Family Man" Barrett versus the Bob Marley estate and Island Records:

Then something strange happened to derail the trial. Mr. Bate [Barrett's lawyer] came down with a sudden and severe illness. The hearing was put off for two days. Then another, then two more. His 103-degree fever lasted a full five days.

More than one observer repeated vague allegations of dolls and pins and dark forces at work. . . .

At 3:40, the court stirred as Rita Marley was called to take the oath. . . . As she sat down, a weighty binder fell off the carousel behind her, and just missed slamming her in the head. . . . As she spoke, a sudden mini-squall of hail beat down loudly on the glass skylight above us. Everyone noticed. . . .

As so the final arguments began, but not before one final, ominous disturbance. According to Laurence Gilmore, Family Man's other main attorney from Hamlins, the venerable British law firm, it was the first time in his 20-year career that such an event occurred. Just as Mr. Bate commenced his closing presentation, Miss Jones [the Marleys' lawyer] announced abruptly, "I smell something burning." A fire alarm began to shriek.

Noting the recent years' obsession in Rasta/reggae culture with the "fire burn" concept, it was, perhaps, not unexpected. "We all had to evacuate," Jennifer [Barrett's partner] told me. "Yet another sign of the evil burning."

The full text of the long and fascinating decision is here.

No mention of dolls and/or pins as dispositive in the court's ruling.