ACCOMPONG, St Elizabeth:
FRIDAY JANUARY 6 saw a flare-up of African-Jamaican traditional culture as the Trelawney Town Maroons of the Sovereign State of Accompong in St Elizabeth celebrated the 274th signing of the treaty of peace and friendship between Captain Cudjoe and the British. The event was also part of Jamaica 50 celebrations.
The historic town took on an air of festivity as usual, although the crowd this year seemed to be smaller than in previous years. Following an all-night vigil, the day's activities included feasting on unsalted food, singing and dancing under the Kinda Tree, feeding of the ancestors in the Peace Cave at Old Town, a procession through the village, and the paying of homage to Cudjoe at his monument.
Amid the shopping and feasting, residents and visitors, during the civic ceremony, soaked up the cultural fare offered by the dynamic Hatfield Cultural Group, the hypnotic Charles Town Drummers and Dancers, the artful singer Kwame 'Lion' Bediako from Ghana, and the fiery Beeston Spring Mento Band, among others.
Sidney Bartley, principal director of culture and entertainment in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, brought greetings on behalf of the new minister, Lisa Hanna. The ministry provided some of the facilities for the event, including the Jamaica 50 backdrop, stage and lighting to ensure it was of a high calibre. Bartley told The Gleaner he was satisfied with the day's proceedings. And he must have been, with his taking over of the stage in between his address with his own style of "getting-on-bad" and singing with the Beeston Spring Mento Band.
Day of fires
Also in attendance were United States Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater; Custos of St Elizabeth Wilfred Nembhard, who represented Governor General Sir Patrick Allen; the Maroon colonels from Charles Town, Scotts Hall and Moore Town; the Nigerian High Commissioner Ambassador Peter Layi Oyedele; Karen Harriot, administrative director of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat; Marcus Goffe, trademarks, designs and geographical indications manager at Jamaica Intellectual Property Office; and Dr Kwame Boafo, United Nations director and representative for the Caribbean Kingston Cluster Office.
It was a day of fires at Accompong, from the scorching sun to the fires that cooked the black fowl and the black hog, to those that roasted the yams and jerked the chicken and pork, to the ones that keep the passion of the descendants of the original Maroons blazing.
PHOTOS BY PAUL WILLIAMS