Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
POOR ORGANISATION, crowd support and the cultural degradation of Jamaica's Accompong Maroon Celebrations in St Elizabeth continue to mar the growth of the festival that has been ongoing for the last 275 years.
Despite Colonel Ferron Williams' stance about refusing to allow the sale of non-cultural and indigenous products by vendors within Accompong Town during their celebrations, it did little to deter vendors who set up shop very early before the official start of the event on January 6.
There was a noticeable decline in overseas visitors who attended the festivities. The local support did not compensate for the decline as their attendance also dwindled when compared to previous stagings, and it is something that has the maroon chief concerned.
"We have several Maroons overseas who were affected by Hurricane Sandy or had families here that were affected, so because of availability of money, they were not able to attend. Funds are low for everyone so it could have contributed to the turnout," he explained.
Destroying their heritage
He also said some vendors were destroying their heritage celebrations and confiscation of goods that are not in line with the cultural image might have to be enforced to break the stalemate.
"Whether or not I am the colonel for next year, we'll have to be proactive and creative to re-energise support for the event and put a stop to things that are destroying what our ancestors worked so hard for us to achieve," Williams argued.
Meanwhile, efforts to boost proper educational facilities for children in the area yielded the construction of bathroom facilities at the Accompong Town Primary and Junior High School in August 2012, funded by Food For the Poor.
In addition, a library and computer-resource facility will begin construction in February through the efforts of Mystic Bowie, an Accompong Town Maroon and recording artiste, who will be funding the project. This is not the first time the musician, who now lives in California, is supporting education in his hometown, as he continues to donate books, computers and other electronic supplies to complement the learning process.
The annual celebration is held on January 6 to commemorate the birthday of former Maroon leader Cudjoe. He fought the British for decades before signing a peace treaty in 1738.