Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Culture, academia to clash at Maroon conference

Published:Thursday | June 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
Gaa'man Gloria Simms pours libation during the launch of the ninth International Charles Town Maroon Conference at Redbones Blues Cafe on Thursday, June 8.

From Thursday, June 22 to Sunday the 25th, the Maroon community of Charles Town in Portland will be hosting its ninth international Maroon conference under the theme 'Maroons and the African diaspora: Learning from the past, looking to the future'.

"The conference offers a unique combination of academic panels, cultural performances, and wellness activities that bring Maroon and indigenous peoples together with scholars, and other interested people from around the world to examine the ways Maroon legacies have endured in the Caribbean, the USA, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa. This year we also emphasise the persistence of indigenous knowledge and its continuing role in shaping the lives of the next generation of Maroons," the Charles Town Maroon Council said in a statement.

It will be four days of academic presentations and cultural explosion inside the Asafu Yard and the River Park Campsite. Friday, June 23 is the day set aside for the celebration of Ancestor Quao's victory over the British in 1739. In an Ancestor Quao community tribute there will be libations, ancestral venerations by Taino, Akan, Yoruba priests and elders, African, Kromante, and maypole dances.

Live performances are expected from Pam Hall, Nadine Sutherland, the female group Savvie, the Charles Town Maroon Drummers and Dancers, Anansi storyteller Amina Blackwood Meeks, and the Cari-Folk Singers. Mutabaruka is down to spin the music. There will be entertainment until the wee hours of Saturday the 24th with the Bonfire Roots Rock Reggae Concert on the campsite near the river.

The other days will consist of panel discussions, drumming and dancing, and poetry readings. On Sunday, the colonels, Flagstaff Maroon chief, and Paramount Chief Gaa'man Gloria Simms will parade in a procession before greeting and addressing the gathering. And, in all of the mix, traditional Maroon and non-Maroon food will be available. Art and craft, and jewellery made of natural materials will also be on sale.

The ninth Charles Town International Maroon Conference was launched on Thursday, June 8, at Redbones Blues CafÈ located at Argyle Road in New Kingston. Members of the organising committee gave an overview of what will take place throughout next weekend. And, if the spirited performances of the Charles Town Maroon Drummers and Dancers are an indication of the cultural feast that is expected to be offered, then they have certainly whetted the appetite of patrons whose taste buds were satisfied by multiple servings of finger food and natural fruit juices.