Jamaica's Maroons remember the fight against slavery





While the English-speaking Caribbean is this year commemorating the 200th anniversary of the end of the British transatlantic slave trade, communities like Accompong Town, made up of descendants of runaway slaves known as Maroons, stand as living reminders of the vicious yet empowering anti-slavery struggle.

But the Maroon legacy in the western Jamaican village of Accompong Town and three other runaway slave settlements remains controversial, because their peace treaty with the British obliged them to return new runaway slaves and suppress resistance to London's rule.

These days, Jamaica is challenging all of its citizens to celebrate their African ancestors, even the Maroons.

'We're saying, `Look, the Maroons' descendants live among us now. This is a different time. We cannot go on forward in this fractured state, so we should try and reconcile,' '' said Shepherd, who as chairwoman of the government-created Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee is sponsoring a conference here and in Montego Bay next month to recognize the significance of the Maroon communities.

''We are searching this year for a way forward, to let this bicentenary count for something and not [maintain] this division in our society. We need to understand Maroon history,'' she said. ``We have to forgive and move on.''


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