Maroons in Cockpit Country face boundary challenges.
The Maroons in Cockpit Country face boundary challenges. However, their future is bright because of the vision of their people and their leader Colonel Ferron Williams. The Maroons in Jamaica has been faced with challenges since their arrival in Jamaica in the 1600’s. Now in the 21st century, the challenges continue, pointing back to the Treaty signed with the British in 1738. Only this time, it’s no longer the British who are flexing their fist, its opportunist looking to line their pockets.
Maroons and Jamaica
Maroons were brought to Jamaica as slaves in the 1600s to work on plantations. They resisted being slaves and headed for the hills. After defeating the British in the First Maroon War, The Accompong Maroons signed the Peace Treaty of 1738 and were given land in Saint Elizabeth. After more than 275 years, it’s unfortunate that the Maroons fight continues.
On Saturday July 13, 2013, I had the opportunity to sit-in on a meeting held by the President and Counsel of the Overseas Maroon Ms Carol Barnett and Mr. Rowe as they welcome Colonel Ferron Williams, leader of the Accompong Maroons in St. Elizabeth and The Principal of Accompong Primary & Junior High School Mr. Garfield Rowe to the US.
Colonel Williams, who has one year left on his five year term as leader, recognized that he must stay aggressive on all information related to Cockpit Country. As various parties are looking to invade Cockpit Country for the mining of bauxite and limestone, the people “Of the Sovereign State of Accompong” are staying focused to ensure that the land that was negotiated by Captain Codjoe in the Peace Treaty of 1738 does not get taken away. The Cockpit Country is home to over 27 endemic species and the largest butterfly in the Americas, the giant swallowtail.
Cockpit Country is Maroons land
It’s very unfortunate to know that the Peace Treaty of 1738 that was signed with then British Governor to Jamaica, Sir Edward Trelawney and Captain Cudjoe of the Maroons could be question. This Peace Treaty that was satisfactory to both parties came at a time in history when a hand shake and someone word was good Enough (Cockpit Country is Maroons land).
However, since then new measuring instruments were invented and now Ronald Edwards, Deputy Commissioner of the Geology and Mines Division was quoted in the Gleaner on January 3, 2013 saying, “The Cockpit Country, as it is, is still to be defined. So we are yet to establish where are the limits…..”) After over 270 years and a The Peace Treaty of 1738, Mr. Edwards decided all of a sudden, Cockpit Country must be redefined.
The Cockpit Country that was establish in the Peace Treaty of 1738 belongs to the Accompong Maroons and the people “Of the Sovereign State of Accompong.” The boundary was intended to remain as it was given to the Maroons and the rest of Jamaica belongs to Jamaica the country. Currently, there are only two land owners in Jamaica (The Government and the Accompong), however, the rest of Jamaicans are hopeful that they too can get there land title.
Accompong Town and the Maroons
Maroon town continues to be a great tourist attraction. Ajamaica experience encourages anyone visiting Jamaica to pay a visit to Accompong town to understand the rich history of Accompong Town and the Maroons. Part of the tour includes visiting the cave where the Peace Treaty of 1738 was signed. Also nature lovers will appreciate the wildlife that Maroon Town offers.
Part 2: Next article on the Cockpit Country, Ajamaicaexperience will talk to the Principal of the Accompong School Mr. Garfield Rowe who is a Maroon and a product of the Cockpit Country school. Mr. Rowe holds a masters degree from the University of the West Indies. Our discussion will include the children and the Annual Celebration in Accompong on January 6th.