NESTLED in the hills of St Elizabeth, is the historical Maroon village called Accompong.
The village was named after its founder, Accompong, who was said to be a trained Ashanti warrior from West Africa and was the brother of other Maroon leaders, Cudjoe and Nanny of the Maroons.
Founded in 1739 after signing a Treaty with the British — runaway slaves led by their leader Cudjoe in defeating the local British militia, were guaranteed their freedom along with the land they had settled on.
Early descendants of the original settlers had managed to retain their African heritage, which they passed on to their children and grandchildren, and to this day, their heritage has remained relatively untouched by the wider Jamaican society. For this reason, Accompong is regarded as one of the only places in Jamaica where African heritage in its purest state can be observed.
Today, Accompong is known for its annual Maroon Festival held on January 6. The festival commemorates the founding of their village, which was signalled by the Treaty signed with the British. The day is also celebrated in honour of Cudjoe, who led in the signing of the Treaty.
The festival is a grand display of drumming, dancing, singing and feasting carried out by the descendants of the early Maroons who honour their ancestors in this way.
Each year, patrons from all over the island as well as visitors from places ranging from Germany to Japan, flock Accompong to observe or take part in the festivities. The festival culminates with a spectacular march to the revered Kindah Tree — Kindah being an African word for One Family — with a grand finale of feasting and dancing.
The settlers of Accompong do not regard themselves as citizens of the State, but as a nation within a nation.