How did the Maroons Secret Lifestyle convert to one of the Biggest Festivals in Jamaica?
In 1739 runaway Maroon slaves signed a peace treaty with the British to gain semi-sovereignty over this region. It is known as being its own independent city within the island of Jamaica with no police, no taxes and its own elected ‘colonel.’ The Maroons who live here are extremely proud of their traditions including that of living a primarily organic lifestyle that has preserved the longevity of many of inhabitants who live to 100 years old. The town of Accompong in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, is a rustic enclave that is governed by its own laws and that’s no surprise given how it came to being.
It was here in 1739 that runaway Maroon slaves signed a peace treaty with the British to gain semi-sovereignty over the area*. Today, the treaty still stands. Up until the 1980s, the town’s gates were locked and outsiders had to seek permission to enter, but now visitors can come and go freely.
WHO ARE THE MAROONS?
The cautious approach to visitors is no surprise. For their own survival, the Maroons had to carefully vet who could be trusted and welcomed into their community. You see, the Maroons were escaped slaves. They ran away from their Spanish-owned plantations when the British took the Caribbean island of Jamaica from Spain in 1655. The word maroon comes from the Spanish word ‘cimarrones‘, which meant ‘mountaineers’. They fled to the mountainous areas of Jamaica, where it was difficult for their owners to follow and catch them, and formed independent communities as free men and women.*
WHO IS QUEEN NANNY?
One of the most prominent leaders of the Maroons was Queen Nanny. She was the spiritual, cultural and military leader of the Windward Maroons who guided the Maroons through the most intense period of their resistance against the British, between 1725 and 1740. Queen Nanny is presumed to have been born around the 1680’s in Africa’s Gold Coast (now known as Ghana). She was reported to belong to either the Ashanti or Akan tribe and came to Jamaica as a free woman.
ACCOMPONG MAROON DAY FESTIVAL
The area is known for more than its independent survival spirit . It is also known for the increasingly popular annual Accompong Maroon Day Festival. This festival takes place on January 6th and celebrates the Maroons emancipation from the British in 1739. The date also signifies the birthday of Captain Cudjoe, celebrated leader of the Accompong people.
‘Every year, descendants and friends of the Maroons come together to celebrate his life and accomplishments, including their victory over the British in the First Maroon War and the signing of the peace treaty between the Maroons and the British in 1739. The Accompong Maroon Festival is held in the St Elizabeth area originally settled by the rebel slaves and their descendants, which was named after its founder, Maroon leader Accompong.**’
For more information visit: http://www.accompongtown.com/
SOUND OFF: What traditions can you share from the Maroons?
- In 1739 that runaway Maroon slaves signed a peace treaty with the British to gain semi-sovereignty over Accompong
- The word maroon comes from the Spanish word ‘cimarrones‘, which meant ‘mountaineers’.
- One of the most prominent leaders of the Maroons was Queen Nanny. She was the spiritual, cultural and military leader of the Windward Maroons who guided the Maroons through the most intense period of their resistance
- The annual Accompong Maroon Day Festival takes place on January 6th and celebrates the Maroons emancipation from the British in 1739.
- January 6th also signifies the birthday of Captain Cudjoe, celebrated leader of the Accompong people.
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