Portland’s Quao Day gets big endorsement
In 1739 Captain Quao, leader of the Windward Maroons, signed a treaty of peace and friendship with the British military whose resolve the Maroons had worn down.
The signing of the treaty was the culmination of a protracted war in which the Maroons used their knowledge of the environment to strategise against the hapless 'Red Coats'. For more than a decade, the Charles Town Maroons of Portland have been observing the victory of the Maroons over the British on Quao Day, June 23.
At this year's celebrations, last Friday, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange was the keynote speaker. Among other things, the minister said: "Quao Day celebrates one of the great warriors, the fierce and fearless invisible Captain Quao, 'The Invisible Hunter', whose spirit and courage ensured that the history of the Jamaican people is a litany of resistance and resilience in the face of colonial oppression and chattel slavery."
Bearing in mind the significance of Quao's victory, the minister also said, "Today, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport joins with you in ensuring that this celebration is given the national respect and affirmation it deserves."
Grange then invited the Charles Town community and the organisers to work closely with her ministry to strengthen the event. "As you may be aware, we are committed to improving the welfare of our heritage communities," she asserted. "In the case of Charles Town and Quao Day, there is need to engage culture and heritage tourism through the empowering of the communities to create relevant and meaningful products for merchandising, while ensuring that the integrity of the culture is sustained."
As such, Grange said it was the intention of her ministry to set up a working group between the organisers of Quao Day and the ministry to prepare for next year's observance. "There shall be standing room only!" the minister declared.
She said she would be instructing the Jamaica National Heritage Trust to work with the Maroons in the future staging of the event. The Institute of Jamaica will also be assisting in upgrading and strengthening the Charles Town Museum "in order to be able to tell to the world the story of The Invisible Hunter".