Please allow me space in your paper to rebut a letter posited by Teddylee Gray on Tuesday, January 18 titled 'Jamaica may need to reconsider Nanny's status'.
In his letter to the editor, Teddylee Gray posited that, “If it were left up to the Maroons Jamaica would still be in slavery.” This assertion lacks a thorough understanding of slavery in the Caribbean.
Slavery was a very complex system which created deep division and mistrust among the black community. Europeans' first attempt to divide the community was through colourism. The lighter-skinned Africans were treated better than the darker-skinned, thus creating an inferiority complex in the African community.
The second attempt was to sign treaties and give manumission to some enslaved. In the case of the Maroons, they were only to be given freedom if they would cooperate with the whites. This was not only for the Maroons but any enslaved who would be manumitted from slavery. Another was to create tensions between African-born and Creole enslaved people. It must be noted that there were several other methods of divisions.
Despite this, several enslaved Africans did not follow the requirement. The records revealed that Maroons disobeyed the treaty by welcoming enslaved from the plantations, thus the argument that Maroons and Nanny supported slavery is not a strong argument.
Finally, if we should survey 18th century slave revolts, many revolts were put down because the domestic enslaved, also called the house slave, divulged information to the planters. This gave the planters inside information about planned rebellions.
Thus, many of our ancestors who were not Maroons also sabotaged Emancipation and planned rebellions.
Administrative History Researcher
Department of History and Philosophy. The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill