News and background stories on maroon communities in the Americas.
Source: Pressrelease JNHT
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) says it is in the process of declaring Nanny Town and the Cunha Cunha Pass as national monuments.
“The sites form part of the Blue and John Crow mountains, which are up for designation as a world heritage sites and they are of historic and cultural significance as result of them being intimately connected with the Windward Maroons of Jamaica,” said the JNHT in a press statement.
Nanny Town is possibly the most sacred of all Maroon sites and is named in honour of the great Maroon leader, Nanny, who is Jamaica’s only national heroine. “It was from this strategically located stronghold in the parish of Portland, that Nanny launched her wars against the British Colonial government. The Stony River in the area is viewed as the place in which the spiritual powers of the great founding ancestors are most concentrated,” said the JNHT.
Nanny Town was considered to be a large village with over 140 houses. After years of conflicts with the English, the village was attacked, occupied and destroyed by English soldiers between 1734 and 1738. The site, though abandoned more than two and a half centuries ago following a prolonged siege by the British colonial troops, is regarded by Maroons with such reverence that is difficult to comprehend by non-Maroons.
Cunha Cunha Pass
Cunha Cunha Pass, meanwhile, is an eight-kilometre mountain trail which was first used by the Maroons to travel between the parishes of St Thomas and Portland. It was also an escape route for the Maroons during battles with the British forces. The trail connects Hayfield and other parts of St Thomas with Bowden Pen and the Rio Grande Valley in Portland, via the main ridge of the Blue Mountains.
According to oral tradition, the site once ended at a plantation which the Maroons could not or “cunha cunha” pass. The trail was also an important trade route, particularly before the road was built that linked Morant Bay to Port Antonio. The pass provided passage, by foot and donkey, for produce grown in the upper Rio Grande Valley to markets on the southern plains.
The Cunha Cunha Pass Maroon Trail was restored and reopened by the Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association, a community-based organisation in collaboration with the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Conservation Development Trust and others in 2002 after being nearly wiped out during Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
On the trail, visitors are exposed to the history of the Maroons as well as the fauna and flora of the Blue Mountains. The trail is one of the most popular routes that pass through the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. The trail also has other important sites including the Three Finger Spring and Lookout which is a midpoint of Cunha Cunha Pass. It was from Lookout that the Maroons monitored plantations.