Knowledge Session: Who Was Nanny Of The Maroons?

Queen Mother Nanny, the great 18th cen­tury lead­er of the Wind­ward or East­ern Jamaic­an Maroons. She is fam­ous for her hero­ic struggle again­st the Brit­ish colo­ni­al empire and its insti­tu­tion of slavery in Jamaica. There are numer­ous legends and super­sti­tions attrib­uted to this great rebel lead­er.

Queen Nanny, born in Ghana in west­ern Africa, to the Ashanti tribe, was brought to Jamaica as a slave, ( there are ref­er­ences to her com­ing as a free Afric­an dig­nit­ary). There were already slave rebel­lions tak­ing place in Jamaica, rebel­lion and Maroon vil­lages were grow­ing. Soon after arriv­ing in Jamaica, Nanny and her five broth­ers escaped from slavery. Her broth­ers Cud­joe, (also a fam­ous Maroon lead­er) Accom­pong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao, became lead­ers of the Maroons, which included free Afric­ans, escaped slaves.

By 1720 Nanny had taken full con­trol of the Blue Moun­tain Rebel Town. It was renamed Nanny Town. There Nanny, and her people had cleared land for food cul­tiv­a­tion. She was said to have had an excel­lent know­ledge of herbs, as well as being a nurse and a spir­itu­al lead­er.

From 1728 to 1734, Nanny Town was defen­ded again­st Brit­ish attack. The Maroons were bet­ter equipped and more know­ledge­able of the moun­tain­ous ter­rain than the Brit­ish. In 1734 a party of Nanny’s Maroons were sent to join those in the west of the island. Three hun­dred men, women and chil­dren set out on one of the longest marches in Jamaic­an his­tory. This march, known as the “great trek” from Portland to St. James, and it is believed that they were to join Cudjoe’s war­ri­ors. Some say it is because Cud­joes wanted peace with the Brit­ish, whil­st Nanny wanted to unite the Maroons.

The slave rebel­lions that fol­lowed were inspired by Nanny and oth­er freedom fight­ers. These rebel­lions made the Brit­ish Gov­ern­ment abol­ish slavery. Queen Nanny is known to the Maroons of today as “Granny Nanny”. Today the Maroons of Moore Town have kept their his­tory through songs and word of mouth. Nanny is regarded as a Priestess and Queen Mother by the Maroons.

After Queen Nanny’s death the Wind­ward Maroons were led by her suc­cessor ‘Quao’ who had exper­i­ence in res­ist­ing the Brit­ish. It was in 1739 that Quao signed a treaty with the Brit­ish, whereby land was ceded to the Wind­ward Maroons, and they were allowed inde­pend­ence.

The gov­ern­ment of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a Nation­al Heroine in 1975 and a Memori­al was erec­ted. Her por­trait is on the 500 Jamaic­an dol­lar bill.

(Source: Itzcaribbean.com )

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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