British envoy hails Maroons

Monday, January 15, 2018

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ACCOMPONG, St Elizabeth — British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad said his attendance at the celebration in Accompong earlier this month indicates continued respect for the relationship and agreement between the Maroons and the British, following the signing of a peace treaty 280 years ago.

“It is only right that when you celebrate a treaty between two sovereign parties that both parties be represented. It is my great honour and privilege to represent that tradition of my forebears and your forebears (who) shook hands (so many) years ago. We shake hands again…,” he said.

Ahmad told the gathering that the event was more than just a celebration of the Maroons' rich tradition and history, but was a lesson to humanity that no matter how powerful an oppressor or an enemy, it can never beat the desire of the human spirit to choose how they want to live and who governs on their behalf.

He said that Jamaicans, including the Maroons and the British, are “equal partners”.

Reading a message from Prime Minister Andrew Holness, mayor of Black River and chairman of the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation Derrick Sangster said that Captain Cudjoe and his band of warriors have taught that with unity and determination the greatest obstacles can be overcome.

He said the signing of the peace treaty was an event of epic proportions that played a great role in influencing where we are as a country today.

Holness said that the annual celebration is a time of reflection on the struggles of the past to achieve “well-fought” freedom.

A notable moment during the day and night celebration on January 6 was the honouring of the contribution of Maroon elder, Melville Currie.

The 85-year-old deputy colonel is a long-standing and vocal guardian of Maroon heritage.

He often speaks on issues such as maintaining the peaceful nature of the community, and the need to live off the land and protect it from activities such as bauxite mining.

“The Maroon country must stay as the Maroon country,” Currie told guests at the celebration.

In a citation he was hailed for serving alongside every colonel at the helm in Accompong.

— Alicia Sutherland

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