Jamaicans Celebrate Accompong Maroon Festival 2013

Every year, on January 6th, the Accompong Town Maroons of St Elizabeth, Jamaica celebrate Captain Cudjoe's birthday and the victory of the Maroons over the British. This year marks the festival’s 275th year of existence.

Who Are The Maroons?

The Maroons are descendants of ex-slaves who escaped form the plantations during slavery and established free villages for themselves in which they could live without fear. Over many decades, the maroons enacted staunch resistance against the British which led to many battles, wars and treaties.

Who Was Captain Cudjoe?

Cudjoe was one of the Maroon leaders or captains. Cudjoe was a revered leader who headed the Maroons of central Jamaica, specifically in Accompong Town.

The Celebration

Every year, Accompong Town prepares for the onslaught of thousands of tourists, returning Maroons and Jamaicans for the three-day fest which traditionally begins on the 4th and continues to the 6th.

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This year, the festival began on a Saturday. The Maroons began their preparations of food, music and dance. Patrons ate, danced and drank until early Sunday morning before greeting the early morning sun.

Sunday was a more peaceful and relaxed day as the Maroons gather for church. Respect ensured that the town was extremely quiet as people met in assorted places of worship. In the evening however, this was to give way to an explosion of scintillating sights and sounds. Surely, the silence gave way to the rhythms of reggae music as the crowds began to swell.

The night exuded a carnival like atmosphere with great jubilation, great energy, great food, and large crowds — patrons and vendors alike.

Jamaicans Celebrate Accompong Maroon Festival 2013 (1)_page4_image2Image Credit: http://lilylilyphotography.com

The Major Attraction

All that gave way to the big celebration on the 6th! Though the festival saw a lower turnout out this year, people poured through the gates of Accompong in anticipation of a day filled with jubilation. Brightly dressed Maroons began leading the tour routes as the processions began with participants adored with cocoon plants used as camouflage/ food in Maroon/British wars. If that was not enough, curious onlookers got to see and indulge in Maroon life. The museum, for example, showcased the rich nature of Maroon history.

Drumming and singing began with the sounds of the Abeng bellowing in the wind. Bottles of rum were passed around to take a long swig before spraying the liquid over the undulating crowd. It was pure excitement!

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One highlight of the day is the offering of unsalted food and rum to appease the ancestral spirits who are believed to dwell in the Peace Cave. The cave is a huge cavern in which non-maroons are not allowed. Patrons, however lingered at the mouth of the cave, amazed by its mystery.

The day ended with performances by the Maroons which included dancing and a number of ritualistic activities. Patrons left the grounds of Accompong having enjoyed a day with a people unique in all its ways.

Jamaicans Celebrate Accompong Maroon Festival 2013 (1)_page4_image4Image Credit: http://www.jamaicanmaroons.com

The ability of a people to keep its traditions pure and its ancestry in constant memory is no less than amazing. For the Maroons of Accompong, this is reality. Over centuries, they have been able to keep their cultural practices standard and their heritage at the forefront of their minds. Today we salute the Maroons in general and those of Accompong in specific for the work they have done and that they continue to do in ensuring that the history of a people, a strong and diligent race is forever preserved.

By Norvan Martin



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