Jean Barry Hodge, aka Ma’at King.
PHILIPSBURG--Ma’at King was identified as the man that was killed by a car in a hit-and-run on Sucker Garden Road on Sunday morning. The St. Martin singer, whose birth name is Jean Barry Hodge, was known for his musical talents and social activism.
Hodge was the leader of the SXM Resistance, a movement that started on the French side in July 2021, in the midst of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. With Hodge as key spokesperson, the collective stood firmly against mandatory vaccination and the health pass, citing infringement on civil liberties and freedom of choice.
On July 24, 2021, SXM Resistance organised its first protest march in Marigot with participation of protesters from both the Dutch and the French side of the island. Hodge announced that the march would not be peaceful, but not violent either: force would be used as a last resort, if deemed necessary.
“The cause of the protest is about our liberty and freedom of choice,” said Hodge in a meeting with the press at the Lady Liberty statue. “We are not against vaccination but against mandatory vaccination. We believe everyone has a choice when it comes to what is injected into their body. This is about the manner in which everything has suddenly been imposed on us.”
Since COVID-related restrictions were lifted, Hodge continued to address general healthcare and quality of food on the island. He exemplified Black resilience, sharing African and Caribbean history and defending freedom of speech, talking about how to take action on breach of rights.
Two weeks ago, after heavy rainfalls on the islands caused floods and rockfalls, Hodge proposed to petition the Parliament of Dutch St. Maarten. “News of the bad weather was known days in advance by government officials,” he said. “I am extremely surprised that no curfew was put in place that same day.”
Hodge wanted to know who was to be held responsible if there had been casualties, and reminded the community that, according to Article 68 of the Constitution of St. Maarten: Parliament shall investigate all petitions submitted to it.
The day after his call to action, Ma’at King wrote on his activist social media page: “Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior. The Helm of Awe I wore before the sons of men; In defense of my treasure; Amongst all, I alone was strong, I thought to myself, for I found no power a match for my own.”