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Homage to the Hero
January 6, 2017, marks the 279th anniversary celebration of the birth of the Jamaican Maroon leader, Captain Cudjoe (Kojo)’s and his victory over the British, led by Colonel John Guthrie. The Maroon victory resulted in the signing of the peace treaty of 1739 that granted the Maroons freedom and autonomy.
Every year, Maroon descendants from Jamaica and abroad along with thousands of tourist descend on Accompong Town, nestled in the hills of St. Elizabeth in ‘Cockpit Country’, to take part in the Maroon festivities.
The day begins with the blowing of the ‘Abeng Horn’ (cured cow horn instrument) and the beating of the ‘Gumbeh’ (Goombay/Goombeh) drum followed by a ceremony paying respect to the ancestral spirits of the maroon ancestors who are believed to dwell inside the Peace Cave.
The festivities include drumming, singing, dancing and feasting on ceremonial food such as unsalted and unseasoned pork, male plantains (horse plantains), male yams, roosters and rum. In preparing the pork, a black male pig is specifically selected and raised for the festival which the Maroons believe will bring good luck throughout the year after it is consumed.
The festival culminates with a spectacular march to a huge mango tree known as the ‘Kindah Tree’, ‘Kindah’ being the african word meaning ‘One Family’. It is under the Kindah Tree that Cudjoe and his warriors planned their attack strategies in order to defeat the British.
“Kojo or Cudjoe is regarded as one of the great resistance leaders against the military-plantation governments which followed the English conquest of 1655. This town of Accompong grew out of a fortified Maroon outpost establised about the commencement of the 18th century during the First Maroon War.
The town was established by Accompong at the direction of his brother Kojo. The war continued for nearly 50 years. Finally, the English asked for peace. On March 1, 1739, a treaty was signed, bringing the first Maroon War to an end. Kojo died at over 80.”
JAMAICA NATIONAL TRUST COMMISSION
Cudjoe, or Kojo/Kwadwo with its various spelling, is the Akan name for a male born on a monday. History states that Cudjoe was born free in Jamaica, the son of a prince, Naguan, who was transported from the Gold Cost to Jamaica by the Spaniards during the mid-seventeenth century. This claim supports and recognizes the important connection between Jamaica and Ghana, noting that most of the early Maroon leaders had originated from the West Coast (Gold Coast) of Africa. The Maroons of Accompong do not view themselves as citizens of the state. Instead, they regard themselves as a Nation within a Nation.