Maroons join forces
SCOTT'S HALL, St Mary:
Dozens of historians and cultural experts from across the northeast travelled to Kushu Bump in Scott's Hall, Maroon Town, St Mary, earlier this month, for the first annual reunion of Jamaica's Windward Maroons.
As part of the festivities, two factions from Portland, the Granny Nanny Cultural Group and the Charles Town Maroon Council, joined with the Maroons of Scott's Hall, who hosted the inaugural gathering, which aimed to showcase the Maroon's legacy by bringing together some of the culture's most contemporary custodians.
Speaking after the event, which featured speeches and traditional dance and music rituals, Colonel Rudolph Pink of the Scott's Hall Maroons told Rural Xpress: "Today, we're having a reunion celebrating the culture and history of the Windward Maroons, and it's something we hope to hold on first January every year.
"I'm trying to unite the Windward Maroons with Maroons from around the world because it's time for us to be free, live as civilised human beings, and stop being pushed down into the gully. We are everywhere, in different sectors of the Jamaican government, and all over the world. All we have to do is unite and start speaking from the same page."
PROUD AND FREE
Acting colonel of the Charles Town Maroons Marcia Douglas said: "In coming together, we have full strength in sharing and expanding our culture, and letting people know who we are because if you ask 'Who are the Maroons?' people will say 'runaway slaves,' not knowing the Maroons are people whose spirit could not be broken living in the wilderness.
"It is very important for Jamaicans to understand the importance of Maroon culture because they are already misled, especially when the subject comes up in school. They should be able to explain who we are and respect the fact the Maroons are the people who helped Jamaica become the proud and free nation it is today."
Last month, Culture Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange confirmed the government would be seeking reparations from colonial powers for the injustices of the African slave trade. While this conversation may be long overdue, the Windward Maroons believe that if the matter is to be settled conclusively, they must be included in the negotiations.
Leader of the Moore Town Granny Nanny Cultural Group Charles Aarons said: "Originally, this country belonged to the Maroons and the British, but in 1962, unknown to us, the Queen of England took politicians from Jamaica and gave the country independence.
"When that happened, we lost our rights because the country was for both of us, but we were not part of that discussion. We have been robbed, and that needs to be looked into because we fought for our freedom."
Pink added: " Either the British [government] or the governor general needs to take up in hand whatever promises were made to our ancestors, namely Kojo, who signed a peace treaty in 1738, and Captain Quao, who signed one in 1739 for the Windward Maroons."