Maroon documentary set for global screening this month

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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THE Jamaica Maroon heritage documentary -- Akwantu: The Journey -- is to be screened globally during this month, according to its director Roy T Anderson.

The documentary explores Maroon identity through his own journey to discover his Maroon ancestry in Jamaica and Ghana, Anderson said. He added that the documentary will receive its international airing, in recognition of United Nations International Day for the Remembrance of Slavery and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, on August 23.


"The documentary will be presented in Liverpool, at the International Slavery Museum," said Dr Harcourt Fuller, assistant professor of history at Georgia State University.


Screenings on August 23 will also take place at the institute of Jamaica in Kingston; the Innis Town Hall Theatre at the University of Toronto; as well as in Los Angeles and Oakland, California.


A special airing will take place at United Nations in New York City, on August 28, Professor Fuller added.


Premiered in Jamaica as part of the country's 50th anniversary celebrations last year, and broadcast subsequently at several international film festivals, "Akwantu: The Journey" received its most recent screening at the Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival in Ocho Rios, St Ann in August, where it was distinguished for its portrayal of contemporary Jamaican history.


"The maroons fought the British army to a standstill, and got a treaty to maintain their freedom... They were the New World's first freedom fighters," the director of the documentary declared. Despite this, Anderson said, "I am sometimes challenged about the role of the Maroons in Jamaican history."


A number of Jamaicans, he said, were unaware of the value of the example set by the Maroons, which had been acknowledged by Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, as well as the rebel Seminole Indian tribe, in Florida, in the United States of America, the director stated.


"People have a hard time revisiting the dark pages of our history," Anderson said. That is why, he pointed out, "this documentary needs be shown in our schools".


The Jamaican-American director was presenting footage from his documentary at the Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston on Friday, August 2.


Leon Mitchell, assistant general manager of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), endorsed Anderson's call for the wider dissemination of the video. He explained that, in recognition of UN International Day for the Remembrance of Slavery and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the JNBS Representative Office in Toronto, Canada, will be collaborating with United Achievers, a non-profit organisation, for the screenings of "Akwantu: The Journey" in Toronto.


"Jamaica National will be also assisting to get the documentary shown in schools in Toronto, to inspire pride in our young people in the Diaspora," Mitchell added. He noted that while the wider Jamaican community achieved Emancipation on August 1, 1838, "The Maroons, a resilient and resourceful people, did not wait for that declaration; but, valiantly fought for their own emancipation in 1739."


Bernard Jankee, director of the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank, thanked Anderson for his contribution to the organisation of select audio-taped recordings of his uncle, Lewis Rowe. The director also presented a DVD of his documentary and the corresponding 'discussion guide' to the National Library of Jamaica.


"The Institute of Jamaica is happy to have a copy this documentary in our library so that we can make it available to the public," Jankee declared.


"Many researchers extract information and keep it elsewhere," Jankee stated. "Thank you for not forgetting your roots."


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