Maroon leader honoured for excellence
Maroon leader Melville Currie was on Saturday honoured for years of excellent leadership as deputy colonel to the noble community of Accompong in St Elizabeth.
A citation was given to the 85-year-old elder at the 280th celebration of the signing of the 1738 Maroon Peace Treaty, held on Saturday. The community praised him for decades of dedication and devotion in serving the historic Maroon community.
"You have remained constant in your pursuit of upward mobility for this community and to those who have entrusted you," said Natalie Williams-Reid, a member of the Accompong Maroon Council.
"All of us in Accompong really appreciate the hard work you do to make this community incomparable. A lot of what we have accomplished is because of you," she added.
Currie is hailed as a repository of the Maroon heritage and has also been one of the foremost voices arguing against bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country.
"Today, the Cockpit Country is the most valuable country in the world, and we want it to stay that way," stated Currie in his address.
"We want it to stay the same way for the next 280 years, make our children's children come inherit (it). We own it and we going to keep it, because that is what we got from the Spanish, and the English gave us 350 acres more that up to now them no mark out yet," he added.
The elder lauded the residents of Accompong for their close-knit relationship, which he claimed has restricted murders to two in the community's 280 years of history.
In response, Finance Minster Audley Shaw, who attended the annual festivity, said that Jamaica has a lot to learn from Accompong's peaceful ways.
"That we have had in the past year, 1,616 Jamaicans murdered across the country and people also being murdered in the past six days into the new years, we have a lot to learn from the Maroons," Shaw noted.
"The country has a lot of work to do. We need now to ensure that freedom means that we are free to be responsible citizens, as well as we must be free to educate our children," the finance minister added.