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The Maroons

The Maroons

The struggle for freedom among peoples has existed throughout much of humanity and in many instances led to the emergence of new nations.  Here in Switzerland this struggle for political freedom culminated in the country’s birth when the cantons of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri formed the Swiss Confederation on August 1, 1291.  Jamaica’s turbulent history of colonization by the Spaniards and later the British was marked by the enslavement of Tainos (the island’s indigenous people) and Africans. In their struggle many revolted against slavery and escaped to the mountains where they settled in relative freedom.  They became known as the Maroons.  Continuous slave revolts and wars with the Maroons disrupted the sugar economy making it less profitable for the colonizers by the 1800s.  Consequently, the abolition of slavery in 1834 brought an end to these revolts. By then Maroon settlements were well established.

 Today the Maroon settlements are semi-autonomous with traditional leaders and distinct cultural identities.  The best-known settlements are Accompong, Moore Town, Charles Town and Scott's Hall, all located on lands acquired through peace treaties with the British colonial government during the 1700s.  Visitors are welcomed on some occasions, such as the celebration on January 6th in Accompong to commemorate the signing of a peace treaty with the British after the First Maroon War in 1739.  In 2008 UNESCO listed Moor Town in the island’s north-east, among the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

April 2018