Above: residents celebrating in Accompong (JIS Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
It was 274 years ago in early January that Jamaica’s Maroons first signed a peace treaty with the British Government.
This weekend, in one of the first major celebrations commemorating 50 years of Jamaican independence, thousands gathered in the historical Maroon village of Accompong in St Elizabeth to celebrate the anniversary.
“If it had not been for the continuous struggle of people like Cudjo, and Nanny [of the Maroons], and so many others, we would not be celebrating today,” said Sydney Bartley, Principal Director of Culture in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, at a celebration on Saturday. “We would be expected to be somewhere cutting cane.”
Bartley said the independence movement for Jamaica began long before 1962, with its roots in the resistance staged by Africans at the point of capture in their homeland, something that should be remembered today.
“We need to ritualise the important elements of our lives,” he said. “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.”
In a message, Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen called the Maroons an integral part of Jamaica’s rich history.