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Once again, the Maroons of Western Jamaica have celebrated the annual Accompong Maroon Festival with much gusto. The event was held over the course of the past weekend, starting on Friday January 6th – the birthday of Captain Cudjoe, who in 1738, on behalf of the Leeward Maroons, signed the first peace contract between Maroon rebel forces and the British colonial government.
This year’s celebration marked the 274th anniversary of this peace treaty. Caribbean Journal reports thousands of visitors took to Accompong town in St Elizabeth this weekend to partake in the festivities. As usual, there was traditional dancing and singing, a fantastic feast, the blowing of the Abeng horn, and playing of the Maroon war drums. The men took charge of the cooking and no salt was used.
Sydney Bartley, Principal Director of Culture in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, on this occasion expressed the opinion that Jamaicans should give more weight to the annual Maroon Day. “If it had not been for the continuous struggle of people like Cudjo, and Nanny, and so many others, we would not be celebrating today,” he said at a celebration on Saturday. “We would be expected to be somewhere cutting cane. We need to ritualise the important elements of our lives. Too many Jamaicans are moving around today, not even stopping to think that this is an important day in our calendar. Without this day, many other days might not have happened”, he said, referring to Jamaica winning its independence in 1962.
According to Bartley, the independence movement for Jamaica began long before 1962, back in the days of slavery, with the roots of resistance staged by Africans at the point of capture in their homeland. “This should be remembered.”
See also this Jamaica Gleaner report on the festival.