Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Letter of the Day | The Maroons are no heroes

Published:Thursday | January 13, 2022 | 12:08 AM

The EDITOR, Madam:

There are some issues in this country that are bigger than party politics and the Maroon issue is one of those concerns. I urge political leaders of this country not to play politics with history but to learn the history in such a manner that it informs progressive policymaking. We have been playing politics with these Maroon people for too long. I support the sternest position of the one sovereignty position by the prime minister of Jamaica.

In spite of the weaknesses of both the Westminster model and 1962 Independence Constitution, I support one sovereign state in Jamaica. The British used the Maroons to achieve their ends and in 1962 dropped them like a hot potato; they had no more use for them. The British Maroon relationship was one of mercenary association. To begin with, there were never any Maroon state in Jamaica but few Maroon loosely organised communities. The Maroons were enemies to freedom and Independence in Jamaica and if there are any heroes among them, they represent not Jamaica but Maroon communities. The Maroons were barriers to freedom in Jamaica during the past and we can never tell when they will become another ‘beached-head’ against freedom and development in this Cockpit Country. Let us take sleep and mark death, an old-time Jamaican talk.

They defended freedom only for their community and not for the wider Jamaican society. Permit me to begin with their great betrayals from returning runaway slaves to active role in the suppression of black liberation struggles in Jamaica. Please be reminded that the British did not have a standing army in Jamaica; Up Park camp is a post-Bogle 1865 creation. The Maroons, mercenaries for the British, were the real standing army for Jamaica. They complemented the fighting force of the Royal British Navy. The year 1760 was a turning point for culture and black resistance and was the first major thrust for freedom against the slave society in Jamaica. It was the year of the Tacky Uprising which was of a greater scope and size than the 1865 Uprising in Morant Bay; the Maroons, as reliable servants of the British Crown, were used not only to quell the rising but also to capture and kill Tacky in the most vicious way. Importantly, Tacky’s Uprising was informed by Obeah, the radical black spiritual force created by Jamaican slaves.

There are very interesting and instructive themes of both the Sam Sharpe and Paul Bogle Uprisings; like Tacky’s role of Obeah and resistance these two leaders were members informed the radical black spiritual movement called the native Baptist movement that was brought into Jamaica by George Lisle in the late 18th century from America. I say this to show that they do not just participate in the killing of great black liberation leaders but also a black thought movement in black radical spirituality. It was the Maroons that arrested the development of Sam Sharpe Christian Uprising in the early 1830s. It was the Maroons that not only captured Paul Bogle and handed him over to their British allies, but they took part in the massacre of anywhere between 10 to 15 per cent of the black population of St Thomas, and including most or all of the black community, business and political leaders the parish. The Maroons have no place in the annals of heroic history of Jamaica. They belong to a tribe of traitors to black resistance and liberation in Jamaica.