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Back in the 1970s when Harry Belafonte was making it big in Jamaica with his movie Buck and the Preacher, the Jamaican Parliament was being persuaded to honour granny Nanny of the Maroons as Jamaica’s seventh National Hero.
And who was arguing the case? None other than a descendent of Nanny herself, Senator Colonel C. L.G. Harris of Moore Town. As a direct result of his motion, prime minister Michael Manley ordered Professor Kamau Brathwaite to lead in historical research, which resulted in the official recognition of granny Nanny as a National Hero.
Today, Professor Brathwaite has endorsed a new book by Col. C.L. G. Harris: The Chieftainess: Glimpses of granny Nanny. The book recaptures events of the Nanny era: challenges faced by the Maroons and their series of scintillating military conquests over highly trained British forces. The flowing, flawless verse brings gripping battlefield encounters to life, yet the humanity and character of the chieftainess shines through with concern for friend and foe.
The author’s son, Mark Harris, became so intrigued with the manuscript that he took on the job of editing it and engaging a publisher. “I discovered unknown facts that amazed me,” he stated. When questioned about the poetic aspect of The Chieftainess, Mark commented, “The book is fast-moving, full of treachery, deceit, and daring escapes. Good poetry is simply written oratory; the most well-known men, Lincoln, Churchill, Kennedy, King, all spoke poetically.”
C.L.G. Harris’ other publications include White is a part of Maroon, On My Honour: A Tale of the Maroons, The Greatest Maroon, and Teacha.
What motivated his penning of The Chieftainess? “I wrote to preserve knowledge of Granny Nanny for posterity; if not captured, these events could become so belittled as to be eventually dismissed as fiction.”
Today, Colonel C.L.G. Harris leads a quiet life in the bosom of Moore Town. He entertains his visitors with tales of a different era and with opinions on current events. His writing of The Chieftainess has enhanced his relationship with his son; it has also brought about a reunion of sorts with Professor Brathwaite, who wrote the preface for the book. “It is fitting that we should meet again in these pages,” Brathwaite commented, “At last we can imagine, through the colonel’s lines, this magical warrior leader, his personal ancestor, Granny Nanny. How powerful is this knowledge that only a Maroon leader could endow to our literature!”
Title: The Chieftainess – Glimpses of Grandy Nanny
Author: Col C. L. G. Harris
Publisher: Publishing Designs, Inc