January 6 – Maroon Day in Jamaica

Posted on January 6, 2018

Did you know that Africans brought to Jamaica as slaves, and enslaved Jamaicans with African ancestors, sometimes escaped and fled to the interior mountains of the island. So many people escaped from slavery that refugee communities sprang up.

These people were called Maroons. 

First Spanish and later English people enslaved Africans in order to create sugar cane plantations on the Caribbean island of Jamaica. But so many revolts among the enslaved people occurred, sometimes helped by Maroons, that sugar cane production became less and less profitable.

There were even Maroon Wars. The British government would send troops into the interior to recapture the Maroons - or at least control them - but the Maroons were able to fight them off. The British government ended up making treaties with the Maroons, granting them land and promising to respect their independence.

I think that the fact that around 600 Maroons were deported to a British colony in chilly Nova Scotia, and later more Maroons were deported to Freetown in Sierra Leone, Africa, means that the British broke their own treaty! Don't get me wrong - these Maroons remained free in Nova Scotia and in Africa - but a powerful government deporting people is NOT respecting the independence of those people.

The British ended up finally stopping the revolts by abolishing slavery in 1834.
Some Jamaicans identify with their Maroon heritage.

Captain Cudjoe
These days, some Jamaicans emphasize the importance of celebrating Maroons, including important individual Maroons like Captain Cudjoe and Queen Nanny, even though this isn't on the list of Jamaica's public or bank holidays. The reason Maroon Day is celebrated on January 6 is because it's supposed to be Cudjoe's birthday. BUT I also read that Cudjoe Day is celebrated on the first Monday of January - which this year was January 1. AND I also couldn't spot any indication that anyone knows what day Cudjoe was born - even his birth YEAR is given as "circa" - which means that we don't know exactly what year he was born, we just know that it was around 1690.

Queen Nanny is one of Jamaica's heroes...
As you can see from the fact that her likeness is on
the nation's currency!

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