The Jamaican Maroons.
Inspired by, the Jamaica Association calendar describing facts concerning the Maroons.
The Maroons are an integral part of our rich history nonetheless these details are sparing.
After my research I decided that there were factors that I would like others to be hearing.
I discovered that The Jamaican Maroons were one of the first blacks to fight for their own freedom;
The Spaniards and British were stealing people from Africa to force them into slavery wherever they would seize them.
However, there were tribes of people who developed a defense program to fight, remain in Ghana and be fortified.
They grew up being able and expecting to fight for their freedom; enslaved selling was well known and accepted by the tribes.
Although some were captured, they were too powerful and confrontational to be controlled -
Furthermore the African and Jamaicans eco-systems are similar and the tribesmen were very determined and bold.
Therefore these people managed to set up home in a district called Accompong,
(this is between St Elisabeth and St James, the people are called Maroon). The land they took, to them it now belongs.
Granted modern facilities are useful but nature weights a ton!
Maroon women prepared their meals outside on the ground; they’d simply light a pile of wood logs,
And in the center they’d place their kettles cups and cooking pots.
The maroons skillfully took advantage of the bat cave in the cockpit hills of St James during warfare;
To tell you the truth, I for one didn’t even know that caves existed out there.
It is said that in Trelawney the ‘bat cave’ was used as a hideout for runaway slaves,
The interior of the cave is huge, dark, and bat-infested. Strangers would have difficulty finding their way.
The Maroons met in this cave to plan strategies or wait for warning that the British were approaching -
Their skills and intellect must have been so unpredictable and provoking.
The bat dung in the ‘bat cave’ was used by the Maroons as a fertilizer for their crops,
The British also used bat dung (guano) but for gunpowder, therefore the demand for bat dug was hot.
In other words the Maroons used guano to support life while the British used it to support death.
Who would you say wins the respect in the morals test?
This may have been another cause for the British and Maroons to be in continuous contention,
In fact bat dug is still used today, however, these interesting details are seldom mentioned.
The Maroons were skillful and physically fit; therefore they were able to navigate the hilly territory effectively -
However the British soldiers had no idea what to expect and were forced to approach the cave apprehensively.
Trelawney also provided an abundance of natural roots, nuts, spices, fruit and herbs;
The Maroons took full advantage of these, as they did with anything useful that emerged.
Emerged Maroons also used these to flavour their cooking and as medicinal aids,
Some of these methods are still used in West Indian dishes till this very day.
The Maroons used smoke signals and an Abeng made from cows horns, for ‘long-distance’ communication.
For example, when the British were coming, the watchmen would blow the Abeng, in correlation.
They could confirm things like the amount of artillery the enemy was carrying and the route they were using.
No wonder, no matter how hard they tried, the battle against the Maroons the British kept losing.
The sounding of the Abeng in the hills of St James, prepared the community for battle.
After a while the British realised the significance of the Abeng and were terrified when they heard its sound rattle.
They knew that Accompong could not be entered without permission from the judge, who presided over the whole village;
In fact, the Maroons fought against enslavement by their enemies for over one decade with much blood spillage.
Meanwhile they added pressure by burning down plantations, and homes, this was burning a hole in plantation owner’s pockets.
Eventually the British begged for a truce in a desperate attempt to stop it.
They made a treaty with the Maroons on the 6th of January 1739 to cease fighting, providing the Maroons refused any runaway enslaves.
Although some were unhappy and had no intention of rejecting runaways, the Maroons were finally swayed.
The leader of the Maroons called Cudjoe, was responsible for the treaty in 1739;
He battled competently and courageously to sustain his people’s liberty and keep them in line.
It is said that the Maroons used the Cudjoe hole as an escape path;
Where the Cudjoe River goes underground, the Cudjoe hole is located at the start.
It has a dangerous drop into the river and to avoid it required a particular art,
And of course the British were inexperienced and had great difficulty accomplishing the task.
Another champion of the Maroons was a very wise woman called Nanny;
She was allegedly the sister of Cudjoe, and in my opinion that concept is not uncanny.
Especially given that she also created many decoy trails and prepared traps,
Making the British soldiers easy prey for the Maroon’s ambush attacks.
For the magnificent part she played in protecting her people against the British soldiers,
In 1975 Nanny was declared a national heroine of Jamaica, in recognition to uphold her.
The marvellous thing was that the Maroons managed to maintain their traditions and ingenuity;
What’s more, as a rule, they did not breed outside their own community.
They broadcasted messages of freedom, independence and deliverance all the time,
What a powerful set of people! Intelligence, skills and determination of an extraordinary kind.
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The term Maroon means, living on mount tops.