Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Maroons


There is nothing really interesting in the news today, so I have nothing to report from my local paper.

Instead, I would like to give you, the reader, a little history lesson.

"The Maroon...is a symbol of man's love for freedom, a token, and agent of active protest against slavery..."

Sir Phillip Sherlock.

Raders of this blog know by now that I am from the Island of Jamaica.
As a Jamaican,I am proud of the many contributions my Island home has made to the world. -Reggae music comes to mind-

But I want to tell you about a group of people that truly makes me proud to be a Jamaican. They are called the Maroons, and if ever a people symbolized the spirit of the true field-negro it was the Maroons of Jamaica. They were fierce and ferocious fighters who refused to be enslaved by the "man".

The Maroons were brought over as slaves from the Ivory Coast, and the Congo regions of Africa around 1655, and waged war against the British in Jamaica until a peace treaty was signed in 1739.

The Maroons were such great fighters that they defeated three regiments of the British army that was brought in to capture them, as well as Carib Indian warriors who were brought over from other Islands to do the dirty work of having to quell the uprising for the British.

The Maroons were more than worthy adversaries to the British, so much so that the British were forced to sign the aforementioned peace treaty, giving them over 1,500 acres of land and an independent state within Jamaica. They were officially recognized as free people, and allegianed themselves with the Jamaican government to fight the French in Haiti and the Spanish in Cuba.

Now this might surprise you, but the greatest Maroon warrior was a woman by the name of Nanny. She was a fearless leader and war strategist who guided the Maroons from 1725-1740 at the height of the Maroon rebellions against the British. It is believed that she practised Obeah, an ancient African religion with mystical leanings. It was also one of the tools that she used to instill confidence in her warriors who were often outnumbered by the British garrisons. She taught her warriors how to camouflage themselves and use guerilla warfare to their maximum advantage in the rebellion, leading to many victories for this great field-negro and her fighters.

Nanny was a politician as well, she was repsonsible for uniting the different factions of the Maroons across Jamaica. This great lady was finally given the recognition she deserves and was made a national hero by the Jamaican government in 1976.

Now speaking of history, you won't read much about the Maroons of Jamaica, because most of their history is oral. It's passed down from generation to generation by Maroon story tellers. But there are still Maroon villages in Jamaica where you can go to learn about this fascinating group of field-negroes who refused to be enslved.

9 comments:

zakiyyah said...

I love your history lesson about the Maroons, my heros. I have compiled a documentary, though not completely finished about the Maroons-I will be in Jamaica this summer, like most summers, and in January of 2007, Maroon Christmas will be on Saturday! I am on blog spot as well, but you can reach me at zakiyyah_ali@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks Zakiyyah, always nice to hear from someone that's up on their history. Good luck on the documentary, and please keep me upated.

I am curious, have you been to Nanny Town as yet?

FN

we saw that... said...

the great family tree of the negro's has many branches and deep roots.

Anonymous said...

Yes it does, and the Maroons are just another part of our facinating history as a people.

FN

damien said...

Didn't know anything about this... but I assure that it instilled a great deal of pride in me once I read it. Thanks Field!!

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