Former Maroon chief dies at 100
Last Tuesday evening, only a few days after he celebrated his 100th birthday, former colonel of the Moore Town Maroons in Portland, Charles L. G. Harris, made the transition into the ancestral realms.
Colonel Harris was a distinguished graduate of Mico College and a former senator. He was the holder of a Badge of Honour for meritorious service, and was bestowed with the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of the West Indies, Mona, in 2006.
He is known as the man who initiated the process of national hero status for Nanny of the Windward Maroons. His forceful presentations in the Senate in the 1970s led then Prime Minister Michael Manley to order cultural and historical research on Nanny of the Maroons, spearheaded by Professor Kamau Brathwaite, a reader at the University of the West Indies, Mona, at the time.
Brathwaite's findings were convincing and in 1976, Grandy Nanny of the Windward Maroons became the seventh Jamaican to be given the Order of National Hero.
In addressing the president of the Senate, Colonel Harris said, inter alia, "I specially would like, sir, and I think it is my duty, and a very pleasant one, to say a thank you, a very special thank you, to our prime minister for the fact that Nanny of the Maroons has been elevated to the Order of National Hero. The Maroons are truly pleased and theirs is the desire not to be parsimonious in their expression of gratitude."
Brathwaite, in his preface to Colonel Harris' book, The Chieftainess says, "Colonel C. L. G. Harris is one of the most crossroads of Caribbeans. By that I mean that at an active 92, he's at the centre of our current time ... and walks within himself that wisdom. He's Maroon ... which places him at the crossroads (the Blue Mountains) of our geography; and as a Maroon, at the very centre of our history."
Colonel Harris led the Moore Town Maroons from 1964-1995, when he was succeeded by Colonel Wallace Sterling, who said Harris was a stalwart who gave his time and energy to Moore Town's development. He was "a giant in his own right", who contributed to the educational advancement of the Maroon community, Colonel Sterling added.