Western News

Jamaica pushes for greater recognition of Maroons

Wednesday, August 13, 2014    

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THE Ministry of Youth and Culture will be lobbying for greater national recognition of the Maroons.

Principal director of culture in the ministry, Dahlia Harris, said there is need to "put together some kind of a position to say 'this is how nationally we have to recognise, we have to engage, we have to respect the Maroon community'."

"The vision is that we will put together a concept paper that will be presented to Cabinet, which says that this is a national issue that needs to be addressed... we really want to see how we can get this done and get this moved," she said.

Harris was speaking at the final in a series of Signature Conversations held Sunday at the Institute of Jamaica Lecture Hall, 10-16 East Street in Kingston. The conversation focused on 'The Jamaican Maroon: Towards Recognition of an Indigenous People.'

Harris said that the Maroons not only resisted slavery but inspired others as well, during the period of enslavement.

She said discussion on the maroons is critical, noting that nationally, they are viewed in different ways "depending on who you speak to and at what level".

Harris also noted that the ministry is still pursuing efforts to get the Blue and John Crow Mountains in eastern Jamaica recognised as a World Heritage Site. The area is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, being home to the maroons, whose traditions were recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

It is to the World Heritage Committee of this body that Jamaica has applied for the site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Other members of the discussion panel included Colonel Frank Lumsden of the Charles Town Maroon Council; and chairman of the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank, Joseph Pereira. The discussion was moderated by Pro-Chancellor at the University of Technology Vivian Crawford.

Scores of Maroons attended the event, which started with the screening of the feature documentary, Akwantu: The Journey, which celebrates the story of the Maroons. There was also a performance piece from the group Hearts of the Arts (HOTA) entitled 'Essence of Maroon'.

Programme manager at the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Maria Smith, also made a presentation on the topic 'UNESCO and Indigenous People.'

Signature Conversations was a new programme of this year's Jamaica Festival that sought to inform and engage audiences on cultural issues. Previous topics discussed at the East Street complex were 'Reflections on Bob Andy's Music and Legacy'; 'Up Ye Mighty Race: Gaveyism and the National Agenda'; and 'Stuart Hall: Representation and Jamaican Identity'.

-- JIS

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