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Maroon colonel wants Britain to pay up old debt

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Sunday Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 19, 2014    

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ACCOMPONG TOWN, St Elizabeth — Colonel Noel Prehay of the Scott's Hall Maroons in St Mary has declared that Maroons should come together to make representation to the British Government to honour an over -- two centuries-old debt.

"Today I am declaring to the people, the Maroons, that we all should make representation or a presentation to the (British) Government on behalf of all the Maroons that we can receive these monies to educate our people and to take care of our children and various families.

"Maroons should be given what is theirs ... and what is truly theirs," said Prehay at the annual Maroon celebration in Accompong recently.

The monies, he said, were part of the commitments made when a peace treaty was signed in 1738 to end years of guerrilla warfare between Maroons and the British colonisers.

Prehay said that based on the agreement at the time, Maroon leader Kojo (also spelled Cudjoe) was slated to benefit from 300 pounds per year to maintain roads in sections of Trelawny, St Elizabeth and St James.

In Scott's Hall, he said, 100 pounds per year was to be given for the maintenance of the families living there.

The Maroon colonel said that payments would have been made on the report of three "white" superintendents who are supposed to be in each of the Maroon communities in Jamaica to give updates on the conditions of the residents.

"Who are the superintendents?" We don't know because we have never seen one," said Prehay.

Jamaican Maroons are identified by historians as descendants of slaves who were left behind by Spanish colonisers when they fled Jamaica following invasion by the British in 1655, as well as runaway slaves from British plantations.

David Fitton, British High Commissioner to Jamaica who was at the Accompong event, commended the Maroons for maintaining a close-knit community and one which is said to have a non-existent crime rate.

He encouraged Maroons to market the business opportunities of their "long and distinguished history" to attract outsiders and tourists.

"I think I want to look forward, not back, because I think your history has a lot which can teach us here in Jamaica and in my country and in the other countries overseas," Fitton said.

An impassioned Prehay also expressed dissatisfaction with how the treaty was introduced to the Maroons.

"The British did not consult the Maroons or have dialogue with the Maroons about the treaty that they were making. They go ahead and make this treaty and carried it to the Maroons. Maroons could not read English. They just tell them what they want to tell them and expect them to comply," he said.

Prehay believes that the move made by Maroons for freedom is also significant because it began the fight for an independent Jamaica.

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