Maroon convention has tourism potential
Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
CHARLES TOWN, Portland:
SEVERAL SCHOLARS and academics attended and presented papers at the third annual Charles Town Maroon Convention held recently in Portland. The convention also has the potential to be a huge tourist pull based on the turnout this year. The best so far.
"When you put on a cultural event like ours, attracting international presenters with great local content and a tremendous tourism potential, you would expect the organisations (public and private) to come on board. We know that we have a good cultural and tourism product, but we need help to make it better and bigger," said Colonel Frank Lumsden, leader of the Charles Town Maroons.
Over three days, visitors and locals got a chance to learn about the story of the Maroons in that region and elsewhere, while some of their descendants from the Portland Maroon communities of Charles Town, Moore Town and Scotts Hall show off their colourful culture with food, art and craft, singing, dancing and drumming. At one stage, on Friday night, the drumming had to be abandoned, as, according to Lumsden, the drummers were no longer in charge, intimating that the spirits of the ancestors were.
Shauntay Grant, a descendant of the Trelawny Town Maroons - who were deceived, kidnapped and taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - and an award-winning international spoken-word artiste gave an enthralling performance telling the story of the deported Maroons, among other things. Grant is also a writer, musician and broadcast journalist who is Halifax's third Poet Laureate (2009-10), and the 2010 Female Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.
The highpoint of the weekend was perhaps the screening of the work-in-progress of the Maroon documentary, Akwantu: The Journey. The reaction to this ground-breaking work, which The Gleaner had the privilege of seeing in a private screening, is good so far. Anderson, the writer, producer, director and narrator, who took the opportunity to shoot more footage over the weekend, also announced on Saturday that the film will be having its Caribbean premiere in June next year, in Charles Town.