Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bowden Pen Maroons

Ambassabeth Cabins 
During the Summer of 2011 the Carr/Allen reunion visited Bowden Pen in the foot hills of the John Crow Mountain in Portland Jamaica. It was August 1st the day the Maroons (Aborigines) in Jamaica Celebrate their Emancipation from the British Colonialism.

 In the New World, as early as 1512, black slaves had escaped from Spanish and Portuguese captors and either joined indigenous peoples or eked out a living on their own.Sir Francis Drake enlisted several 'cimaroons' during his raids on the Spanish.As early as 1655, runaway slaves had formed their own communities in inland Jamaica, and by the 18th century, Nanny Town and other villages began to fight for independent recognition.

"Remembering of the past an antidote for the future". 

Ndyuka Maroon women with washing. Suriname River. 1955

When runaway slaves banded together and subsisted independently they were called Maroons. On the Caribbean islands, runaway slaves formed bands and on some islands formed armed camps. Maroon communities faced great odds to survive against white attackers, obtain food for subsistence living, and to reproduce and increase their numbers. As the planters took over more land for crops, the Maroons began to vanish on the small islands. Only on some of the larger islands were organized Maroon communities able to thrive by growing crops and hunting. Here they grew in number as more slaves escaped from plantations and joined their bands. Seeking to separate themselves from whites, the Maroons gained in power and amid increasing hostilities, they raided and pillaged plantations and harassed planters until the planters began to fear a mass slave revolt.

The early Maroon communities were usually displaced. By 1700, Maroons had disappeared from the smaller islands. Survival was always difficult as the Maroons had to fight off attackers as well as attempt to grow food.One of the most influential Maroons was Francois Mackandal, a houngan, or voodoo priest, who led a six year rebellion against the white plantation owners in Haiti that preceded the Haitian Revolution.

Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and areas of the United States on various dates in observance of the emancipation of slaves of African origin. It is also observed in other areas in regard to the abolition of serfdom or other forms of servitude.

Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica

On midnight of July 31, 1838 it was reported with great pride that many slaves journeyed to the hilltops to greet the sunrise of Friday, August 1, 1838 that symbolized a new beginning in their lives. When morning broke, large congregations joined in thanksgiving services held in several chapels and churches across the island.

Today, Jamaicans continue to celebrate Emancipation Day through the reenactment of the reading of the Emancipation Declaration in town centers particularly, Spanish Town, St. Catherine which was the seat of Parliament when the Emancipation Act was passed in 1838. The day is also widely observed as a national public holiday when all schools and public buildings are closed.
Gov.of Jamaica

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