Accompong celebrates 280 years since Maroon Peace Treaty
Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, is seeking to put at ease the minds of Maroon descendants of Accompong,
St Elizabeth, by announcing that the Cockpit Country will be labelled a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Grange made the declaration during Saturday's 280th celebration of the signing of the 1738 Maroon Peace Treaty, held in the historic Maroon village.
"The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was designated the first UNESCO heritage site in Jamaica, and we created an economic programme for the Maroon communities that surrounded the mountains," she said. " ... We are now expanding that programme to Accompong as we prepare a dossier for the Cockpit Country to be designated a World Heritage Site as well."
Grange said officers from her ministry would be visiting Accompong to work alongside the community to provide training and guidance to improve the promotion and economic value of the area.
"My officers will be coming and working alongside the colonel and his team to assist you in making this celebration an event that will be well organised, with proper infrastructure put in place and proper promotion, so that this can be marketed to the world through the Ministry of Tourism," Grange explained.
"You are a talented people, so we will be here helping you to create the type of artefacts, and art and craft that will reflect your culture."
The celebration is held annually on January 6, which is also recognised as the birthday of Cudjoe, who was leader of the Maroons in 1738. In honour of Cudjoe's fight and sacrifice for freedom, Grange noted that a grave and headstone for the great Maroon leader would be appropriately established.
"If there was ever a time we need to affirm national pride and dignity, and promote our ancestral pedigree, it is now, at the beginning of the new year, as we prepare ourselves to tackle the challenges we face in our daily existence in Jamaica. This is also a reminder to us that we have overcome greater obstacles in our past and that we can do so again in this present," said Grange.
The day's programme included performances from Maroon traditional cultural and folk groups, as well as fraternal salutations from colonels of the island's Maroon communities.