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Source: Jamaica Star
As Jamaica prepares for its 275th celebration of the Accompong Festival on Sunday January 6th, organizers of the event in St Elisabeth have raised the ‘not welcomed’ sign to vendors who plan to sell non-traditional and imported wares at the cultural event come Sunday.
Head of the Accompong Town Maroons, Colonel Ferron William, said the practice is devaluing the cultural brand of the celebrations and must stop. “We do not want you here!” he charged. “Do not come here with your commercial goods because we will not let you in and we are not going to be responsible if anything happens to you if you smuggle them in the area. This has to stop, and we only want vendors who are selling indigenous goods, traditional clothes, art and craft items.”
This tune has been sung before, but Colonel Williams is adamant to take back the festival from the claws of peddlers who have contributed to its lacklustre growth.
The annual celebration is to commemorate the birthday of former Maroon leader Cudjoe. He fought the British for decades before signing a 1738 peace treaty. The celebration begins with the blowing of the Abeng, summoning all the Maroons to assemble like they did more than 270 years ago. The Abeng is a horn used to communicate with Maroons over many miles in the Cockpit Country terrain.
“We not into the habit of promoting a downtown market scene, take that somewhere else. Let us help build this into the best heritage event in Jamaica and not help to tear it down. Our ancestors deserve better and we will see it to that it is enforced,” Colonel Williams confirmed.
As a measure to raise funds towards the community’s development, each visitor will be required to pay an admission fee to enter the grounds. The funds are then used to assist the Maroons with their educational initiative for young students in the area.