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I was sad to learn that over a week ago Mr. Hansley “Rupi” Reid, an elder from the Maroon community of Accompong Town in St. Elizabeth’s Parish, Jamaica died in a house fire. I haven’t been able to find any details in online media about the incident, but I learned from a friend who has worked closely with the Maroon community of Accompong and had been conducting research there over a period of time.

I talked to Mr. Reid on my first visit to Accompong Town earlier this year. It was the day before Kojo Day and the place was abuzz with activity. He was standing in front of one of the little shops and I complimented him, which I think I caught him off guard. And he told me he was a chief and talked briefly about the traditional horn he would be using in the ceremonies the next day for Kojo Day. I had asked to take his photo and he agreed, only he said, if I promised to buy Red Stripe beer for him when I came back. The next day when I returned he was busy with the festivities so I didn’t get to talk to him.

By the looks of it Mr. Reid, who was 80 years old, lived a full and vibrant life. In one of these photos he was showing me the hotel they are constructing and talked about activities in the community. He looked strong and fit on the two days that I saw him so it is a shame for his life that his life should come to an abrupt end in such a tragic way. I hope his family is able to find solace in the memories of the life he lived.

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