Sat | Aug 19, 2017

The Chiefdom of Huareo Pt II

Published:Sunday | April 24, 2016 | 4:00 AMPaul H. Williams

The following is the second of a four-part summary of Fred W. Kennedy's historical novel, Huareo, Story of a Jamaican Cacique, published by Ian Randle Publishers. This 2015 fiction is based on the life of the Taino chief Cacique Huareo, who lived in what is now called Port Maria in St Mary, and who resisted the Europeans who disturbed the idyllic life the Taino led on the island of Yamaye (Jamaica).

Huareo succeeded his uncle, Cacique Majagua as paramount chief of Yamaye. Majagua died after the first set of Europeans visited the island. Just before he passed he told Huareo to beware the arijuana (strangers) as they were full of mischief and danger.

The young Huareo had married his cousin Caona, Majagua's daughter. She bore him a son named Amayao, and she told him not to father any children with his other possible wives. But Huareo could not promise her that.

Yet, he welcomed back his cousin Guababo, who was banished to Haiti for removing a fertility cemi (rock sculpture) from the field. Guababo told him that he was tricked by Macu, the spiritual adviser, into removing the cemi. For this Macu would be severely punished.

Guababo also told him of the atrocities that the strangers were carrying out in Haiti. Their return to Yamaye was imminent and so Huareo called a meeting with the young Taino to prepare for their possible arrival.

The problem, though, at that time, was not the strangers, but the evil spirit that had taken over some women and children. Huareo's wife was pregnant and sick. She was taken from the village by her uncle, Guayacan.

Macu appeared from hiding to denounce Majagua and Huareo, calling them imposters. He was beaten, thrown into the forest and eventually killed.

Huareo's father, Ameyro, the cacique of Anamaquique, went to see him. His mother had passed away. The other caciques of Yamaye had also arrived to discuss the worrying issue of the strangers' presence and wicked deeds.

While Huareo was adamant that the strangers should not be embraced because of what they were doing in Haiti, the cacique of Yama insisted that they were nice people who would help them to be prosperous. A decision was made to seek advice from a cemi and a council of elders, and to train the youths to defend Yamaye.

Huareo's chiefdom prospered, to the point where other people moved there. Yet, his wife remained gravely ill after giving birth to their daughter Aquiana. And despite the efforts of Guayacan, his uncle, Caona died, but not before telling Huareo that they were not cousins, after all. Her mother had told her Majagua was not her father.

Over her death Huareo went into seclusion and mourning for a long time.

While he was going through depression the strangers were on their way to Yamaye. They were found shipwrecked on a beach. Worms had destroyed their ship, which was taking in water.

The Taino met with the strangers who were told they were not welcome. They begged for food and water, and offered their friendship. They were given casabe (cassava bread), in exchange for gifts, but were told they couldn't stay, and not to abuse the women and children.

When the strangers with the huge appetites ran out of gifts the Taino cut back on the food they were getting. They became angry when their huge demands were not met. The Taino had let their guard down and the strangers started to wreak havoc upon the villagers.

Huareo and other caciques met with Cristobal Colon (Columbus), his brother Bartholome, and son Hernando on the wrecked ship. Huareo accused the strangers of killing and raping his people. Columbus asked for food for his men. But Huareo did not care. He wanted them to go.

The old, grey, emaciated, down-and-out Columbus got into a rage and called down the wrath of God upon the Taino. "He will cast darkness over your land to show his anger for the Taino who will not feed his chosen people," the once great Admiral of the Ocean Seas thundered.

That night, the golden moon turned blood red. The terrified Taino cried and begged Columbus forgiveness. He promised to do so only if the Taino started to feed them again. The Taino agreed, but believed Columbus was mad and possessed by Maboya, the evil spirit.

After 12 moons, the strangers left Yamaye for Hispaniola, but in anticipation of their return the Taino warriors practised among themselves. And the romance between Huareo and his new main wife, Yari, bloomed.

In Haiti, the plunder continued. The Spaniards were brutal, and the Taino were dying fast. And the news was that some of the strangers were on their way back to Yamaye. "Then we must prepare for the worst," Cacique Huareo said.