A Maroon vision of ‘Hope’ for teenager Lomorra Dillon
Moore Town youth insists that change is necessary for Portland communities
Lomorra Dillon, 19, says she set out with a plan to replace Colonel Wallace Sterling, who has held the seat in Moore Town, Portland for almost three decades. (Photo: Everard Owen)

Lomorra “Hope” Dillon became the subject of much interest two weeks ago, after she made a bold declaration that she was gunning for the position of chieftainess of the Moore Town Maroons.

Dillon set out with a plan to succeed Colonel Wallace Sterling who has held the seat for almost three decades, as she feels it’s time for a change — one that she is destined to bring forth.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with the Jamaica Observer, Dillon, who turned 19 on May 11, said her upbringing in the Maroon culture has shaped her into the person that she is today. And so, she strongly believes she has the potential to return the culture to what it once was.

“I am not being influenced by anyone. I am now 19 and I have eyes for myself. I can see what’s going on and I understand. I have been involved in the culture since I was three years old, and I have been here. I haven’t gone out there to live for any period of time, so I see what’s becoming of the culture,” Dillon said last Tuesday, chilling on the veranda of her Moore Town home in Portland.

Lomorra Hope Dillon graduated from Happy Grove High School with six Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) subjects. (Photo: Everard Owen)

“I have to watch the culture deteriorate, I have to watch everybody isolate themselves; there is no unity and that is what I would like to bring back. I genuinely care about the culture, and I really care about the communities. During my spare time, I have been learning from my elders what I can so that I can help bring back the culture to where it once was. My grandfather was a major and I also learned a lot from him,” she continued.

The Happy Grove High School graduate has passed six Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) subjects with a grade one in English, grade two in principles of business, human and social biology and office administration, and grade three in economics and social studies.

Dillon, planning to embark on tertiary education at the College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE), was unable to begin sixth form this year because she was in the United States on a cultural exchange programme and missed the application deadline.

“In 2016, I went on a cultural exchange in the United States… I toured America and I was sponsored by Georgia State University, so I am culturally experienced. I went back in 2022 on a next cultural exchange. My eyes have been opened before that. I’ve always had an interest in the culture. I grew up in it. I always feel like it’s a part of me and it’s who I am,” she told the Sunday Observer.

Lomorra has visited the United States twice, a part of a cultural exchange programme. (Photo: Everard Owen)

Dillon said a lot of the negative feedback that came her way was as a result of her age.

“My family was okay with it. Of course, you’re going to have discouragement because they are saying I’m young and I should be going to college. But that won’t stop me from going to college. I’ve been juggling three things all my life. During high school, I’ve been doing music and I’ve also been involved in the culture meanwhile I’m studying,” she said.

“I passed six CSEC subjects and, of course, I plan to further educate myself. You’re never too old to learn and you’re never too young to learn. I haven’t been intimidated by anyone. I know that I am doing the right thing and I know what I am putting myself out there for and I know the cause.”

But the support, she told the Sunday Observer, vastly outweighed any disapproval.

“I faced some discouragement, but the reception is good overall from Rio Grande Valley and the area, so I am pleased. I want to thank Chief Richard Currie. I asked him to post a video on his platform. Without that video being there, we wouldn’t have reached where we are right now so we could shine some light here on what’s going on. So, I’m thankful for that.

“And I also want to thank Buju Banton. He’s a Moore Town Maroon and I want to thank him for reaching out and for the endorsement. And I hope later on in the future he wants to know more about his roots.”

Lomorra says she is grateful for the endorsement of Chief Richard Currie and Buju Banton. (Photo: Everard Owen)

She added that when Banton reached out initially, “I was a little shocked, but I was very excited, and I was very happy that he reached out.”

Dillon noted that she faced no gender inequity after announcing her desire to be the first woman to become a chief since national heroine, Nanny of the Maroons.

“It’s a very big deal that I’m a female because I would be the first female to hold that seat since Nanny and as you know, Nanny is the only heroine in Jamaica. A male always held that seat… we never had a female; so it’s a very big deal,” she told the Sunday Observer.

“It would really be an honour to have that position as the first woman since Nanny to hold the seat. I really look forward to it. It would be amazing to hold that seat and ironically, I am the first woman, according to my elders, since Nanny to blow the Abeng. So, I think this is my calling and this is what I’m supposed to do.”

Last Sunday, Dillon said she put the question forward for people to elect a new chief. She said they then had a vote where they affixed their signatures.

If she had successfully dethroned Sterling, who has been the chief for the Moore Town Maroons since 1995, Dillon said, “I would build infrastructure. It is not much here. So much more can be done. Everyone is migrating, especially in this community. Constant migration has been going on in Moore Town. If the youths and people in general have employment, then they would like to stay. It is nine Maroon communities and they have been isolated for so long.”

However, Sunday’s election was marred by controversy, as Colonel Sterling continuously questioned the validity of individuals calling for a poll. He told the Sunday Observer that it is concerning that Dillon had used his image on her ballot paper without his permission.

All those who voted chose Dillon. But Sterling insisted that Dillon’s attempt at an election was not recognised by the council and was therefore void. He has also made it clear that ballot papers are not traditionally used in Moore Town Maroon elections.

Dillon said: “So, he (Sterling) is saying that it is not legitimate. I am adamant that it is legitimate. So, I was gracious enough to say, ‘okay, let’s compromise and have his process.’ He said he will be calling a township meeting by the end of the month which will lead to an election.”

Simultaneously, she said a youth like herself being the face of the community will do a lot of good.

“There is a saying that youth learn from youth. So, I think they (youngsters) would be more comfortable and of course, we are young so we would have more ideas that would attract them to the culture,” she contended.

Romardo Lyons

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