great hero nanny of the maroons

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great hero nanny of the maroons

Post  Admin on Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:33 am


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Queen Mother Nanny, the great 18th century leader of the Windward or Eastern Jamaican Maroons. She is famous for her heroic struggle against the British colonial empire and its institution of slavery in Jamaica. There are numerous legends and superstitions attributed to this great rebel leader.
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Queen Nanny, born in Ghana in western Africa, to the Ashanti tribe, was brought to Jamaica as a slave, ( there are references to her coming as a free African dignitary). There were already slave rebellions taking place in Jamaica, rebellion and Maroon villages were growing. Soon after arriving in Jamaica, Nanny and her five brothers escaped from slavery. Her brothers Cudjoe, (also a famous Maroon leader) Accompong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao, became leaders of the Maroons, which included free Africans, escaped slaves.
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By 1720 Nanny had taken full control of the Blue Mountain Rebel Town. It was renamed Nanny Town. There Nanny, and her people had cleared land for food cultivation. She was said to have had an excellent knowledge of herbs, as well as being a nurse and a spiritual leader.
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From 1728 to 1734, Nanny Town was defended against British attack. The Maroons were better equipped and more knowledgeable of the mountainous terrain than the British. In 1734 a party of Nanny’s Maroons were sent to join those in the west of the island. Three hundred men, women and children set out on one of the longest marches in Jamaican history. This march, known as the “great trek” from Portland to St. James, and it is believed that they were to join Cudjoe’s warriors. Some say it is because Cudjoes wanted peace with the British, whilst Nanny wanted to unite the Maroons.
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The slave rebellions that followed were inspired by Nanny and other freedom fighters. These rebellions made the British Government abolish slavery. Queen Nanny is known to the Maroons of today as “Granny Nanny”. Today the Maroons of Moore Town have kept their history through songs and word of mouth. Nanny is regarded as a Priestess and Queen Mother by the Maroons.
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After Queen Nanny's death the Windward Maroons were led by her successor 'Quao' who had experience in resisting the British. It was in 1739 that Quao signed a treaty with the British, whereby land was ceded to the Windward Maroons, and they were allowed independence.
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The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1975 and a Memorial was erected. Her portrait is on the 500 Jamaican dollar bill.

Una Marson (1905 - 1965)

Una Marson, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica [circa 1930]

Image from the National Library of Jamaica Photograph Collection. Permission to reproduce this image must be obtained from the National Library of Jamaica

This image was used in Una Marson's first collection of love poems Tropic Reveries, published in 1930.

Further information - Biography

Una Maud Victoria Marson 1905 - 1965
Una Marson was a pioneer Jamaican feminist, poet, playwright and social activist. A black Jamaican woman, from the middle class and of strict Baptist upbringing, Marson emigrated to work in London in 1932, producing plays, poems and programmes for the BBC during World War II. She was the epitome of a black political artist.

Una Marson was born February 6, 1905 in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth.
After leaving school, Marson worked as a volunteer social worker.
In 1926, she got a job as assistant editor for the Jamaican political journal, Jamaica Critic.
In 1928 she became Jamaica's first female editor and publisher of her own magazine, The Cosmopolitan
In 1930, Marson published her first collection of poems, entitled Tropic Reveries which won the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Medal.
In 1931 she wrote her first play 'At what a Price' which opened in Jamaica and later in London to critical acclaim. In 1932 she left Jamaica for London.
From 1936 she moved back and forth between London and Jamaica. Her sojourn in England made Una Marson more aware of race equality issues around the world - from West Africa to the US. After working as English speaking secretary to Abyssinian minster Dr. C. W. Martin in London, Marson accompanied Haile Selassie as his a personal secretary on his last ill-fated plea for Abyssinia to the League of Nations on 30 June 1936. She subsequently returned to Kingston – having being told that she was heading from a nervous breakdown from over work.
However, on her return to Jamaica, Marson continued at her usual pace. She promoted national literature by helping to create the Kingston Readers and Writers Club, as well as the Kingston Drama Club. She also founded the Jamaica Save the Children Fund, which was an organization that raised funds to give the poorer children money to get a basic education.
In 1937 Marson published 'The Moth and the Star' [poetry], followed by 'London Calling', [play] working with Louise Bennett, and 'Pocomania' [play].
In 1938, Marson returned to London to continue to work on the Jamaican Save the Children project that she started in Jamaica, and also to be in the staff of the Jamaican Standard.
In 1941, she was hired by the BBC Service Empire to work on a program in which World War II soldiers would have their messages read on the radio to their families. By 1942, she became the program's West Indies Producer. During the same year, she turned the programme into Caribbean Voices, which was a forum in which Caribbean literary work is read over the radio. Her radio show was said by writer Kamau Brathwaite to be - the single most important literary catalyst for Caribbean creative writing in English.
In 1945 Marson published a poetry collection, 'Towards the stars'.
Post 1945 details about Marson's personal life are sparse. Many or her works were unpublished or circulated mainly in Jamaica. - Most of her writings are found only in the Institute of Jamaica, the parent institution of the National Library of Jamaica

Jarrett-Macauley, Delia, The Life of Una Marson 1905-1965. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998
Marson, Una, Tropic Reveries (1930), Digital Library of the Caribbean, 2008.


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Imogene Kennedy

Queen of Kumina: Imogene Kennedy - 'Queenie' III, St. Thomas, Jamaica, [date unknown]

Image from the National Library of Jamaica Photograph Collection. Permission to reproduce this image must be obtained from the National Library of Jamaica
Photograph credit Keith Morrison

Further information - Biography

Imogene Kennedy
Imogene ‘Queenie’ Kennedy was born in Dalvey, St. Thomas sometime, it is believed, in the late 1920s, raised by her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother was an African and it was through her that Queenie was first made aware of her African ancestry and culture.
She was introduced to Kumina by neighbours, Man Parker and his father Ole Parker: “…the most highly respected forebears of the Kumina nation, famous for their deep knowledge of ancestral values and practices.” (Lewin, Olive. Rock It Come Over: p. 259) It was common for Queenie to steal away to the Kumina sessions held next door as her interest increased. Queenie’s ascendance as Kumina Queen was a result of a life-changing experience [The full account can be read in Rock It Come Over by Olive Lewin] Queenie said that one day, while searching for coconuts in a gully, the spirits took her to a large, hollow cotton tree (In Africa and the West Indies, the cotton tree is seen as the traditional home of spirits). There she spent twenty one days without food or water communicating with the ancestral spirits who taught her prayers and songs in the African language, Kikongo. From this spiritual experience Queenie emerged as a full African Kumina Queen.
Queenie has received many awards from various organizations at home and abroad including awards from L’Acadco and the Jamaica Folk Singers. She has received several gold medals for traditional dances in Jamaica’s Festival events and, in 1983, she received the Order of Distinction for services in the development of African heritage.

Lewin, Olive. &quot;Rock It Come Over&quot;: The Folk Music of Jamaica with Special Reference to Kumina and the Work of Mrs. Imogene &quot;Queenie&quot; Kennedy. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2000.
&quot;Queenie's Kumina Reborn in Exhibition Now On.&quot; The Jamaica Observer. Tuesday, May 21, 2002: p. 8

around 1909 two maroons in jamaica

Jamaican History Comes Alive

Until I visited Accompong Maroon Town, I thought I knew all there was to know about the Maroons in Jamaica. So when my kids, and a couple of friends took the drive with me up into St. Elizabeth's Cockpit Country, I was looking forward to the view more than anything else.
Turning inland at Tombstone in Lacovia, it was a pleasant 20 minute drive through Newton and Maggotty. The last 15 minutes were challenging. The road was as awful as the view was fabulous, but my car, a true Jamaican, has yet to meet the pothole it can't handle. The bad road brought home to me how hard it would have been for the British to penetrate Maroon territory with no road at all.
That's when I realised the difference between reading history, and feeling history come alive.
We got to the town on a quiet morning. For a small fee we were taken on a guided tour around the community, and the significance of the place grew on us with each step we took. Kenroy Cawley made a knowlegable guide, knowing when to talk, and when to be quiet and let us take it all in.

Maybe it was the Kindah tree where Kojo made his war plans, or the holy, healing Seal Grounds, or maybe just the mountain air. I can't put my finger on any one feature that makes Accompong special, you have to feel it for yourself.
The term Maroon usually refers to Africans who escaped slavery in the Americas and set up their own communities in remote areas.
The original Jamaican Maroons were mostly African and some Taino slaves who either escaped, or were set free by the Spanish at the time of the British capture of Jamaica in 1655. Over the next 5 years they helped the Spanish to defend the island, until the British conquest was complete. Thereafter their numbers swelled with runaway slaves from the sugar plantations.

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The Jamaican Maroons spent years fighting to remain free and thwarting attempts to penetrate their strongholds. They were never conquered by the British.

A peace treaty granting the Maroons land, freedom and some autonomy was negotiated in return for the Maroons agreeing to return runaway slaves to the authorities. This created a separation between the Maroons and the rest of Jamaican society, and a sense of regret among many Maroons.
Accompong is the only Maroon settlement on the western side of Jamaica. It was founded by Accompong, who was brother of the famous maroon leader Kojo (Cudjoe). The settlement is located in the hills of St. Elizabeth, at the place Accompong used as a camp for carrying out raids.
The village was officially established in 1739, when the first Maroon War between the English and the Maroons ended. Land was granted to the Maroons, the exact boundaries of which are in dispute today.
Within the town, individual plots of land are passed down from generation to generation, with no official titles changing hands. Neither the land nor income generating activities within its boundaries are subject to government tax.
Community matters are directed by the Colonel and the council which he appoints. The Colonel is elected every three to five years. In elections held in August 2009, Colonel Peddie was replaced by Colonel F. Williams.
The abeng is the most recognised symbol of the Maroons. It is a cow's horn with the tip cut off. The Maroons sent secret war time messages by the drum and the abeng. Blowing through a square cut into the concave side of the abeng produced a sound heard for miles, which could be decoded by those who knew how. Today it is used mainly for ceremonial and festive purposes.

Accompong today is a farming community, with a few shops to serve the local population, and a small museum showcasing the history of the Maroons. There is also the tiny Craft and Herbs shop, selling, naturally, craft and herbs. (I'm careful to use the plural 'herbs', because in Jamaica 'herb' is something you can get locked up for selling!) The traditional Maroon Gumbay drum is sold here, along with natural remedies for many common ailments.

Every January 6, Accompong celebrates &quot;Kojo's Day&quot;. Hundreds gather from across Jamaica and the world to commemorate Kojo and the signing of the Peace Treaty.
On this day the Maroons share some of their cultural traditions - music, dance, drumming, feasting - with the wider society. Many of their rituals and practices are never shared with outsiders.

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