Sadly, I know little about Maroon history and culture, probably like many Jamaicans. I’m familiar with Nanny, one of our National Heroes. Cudjoe…Accompong…the Abeng.I attended UWI’s launch last week of the new McIntyre/Nettleford scholarship fund, pushing new initiatives to make the university more relevant for ‘indigenous’ and ‘neighbouring’ communities. A video showed UWI’s efforts to connect with both groups; it’s expand opportunities for the Kalinagos in Dominica and Mayans in Belize. I asked a UWI luminary about our Tainos/Arawaks. But my mind also drifted to the Maroons. Why? That morning I’d read about the upcoming 8th Maroons Conference ( Charlestown, Portland, June 23-26).
This year’s theme: ‘Toward a Borderless Indigenous Community’, linking the recurring struggle of indigenous people…around indigenous rights. Discussions will involve a broad range of scholars, ending with the annual celebration of Quao Day on Sunday June 26 (celebrating the victory of the Maroons over the English in the final battle of the First Maroon War at Spanish River, and the subsequent signing of the second Peace Treaty with the Maroons in 1739).
The Maroons’ also care for our other indigenous peoples, the Tainos, whose representatives in Jamaica stress are NOT extinct. More broadly, this has been shown to be true. The Maroons want to develop a project to research Taino DNA in Jamaica to discover its national spread. Out of many, one people, truly. Better start listening to Abeng 88.7.