Roots | Queen Nanny

Irie Magazine | Roots | Queen Nanny

Queen Nanny

c.1686 – c.1755

Queen Nanny or Nanny (c. 1686 – c. 1755), National Heroine of Jamaica, was an 18th-century leader of the Jamaican Maroons.

Historical documents refer to her as the “rebels’ old ‘obeah’ woman” but to the Maroons she was revered as a woman of science.

Queen Nanny was born into the Asante people in what is today Ghana, West Africa, and escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica.

Queen Nanny is symbolic as a fighter but most importantly as a mother… the Mother of All! Queen Nanny’s remains are buried at ‘Bump Grave’ in Moore Town.

Facts an’ T’ings

Queen Nanny had an older sister named Sekesu. They were both captured in the Gold Coast and brought to Jamaica on board the same ship. Nanny escaped into the Cockpit Country along with her brothers, Accompong, Cudjoe, Johnny and Quao while Sekesu remained in bondage.

Queen Nanny single-handedly defeated a battalion of British soldiers by strategically placing her cauldron of boiling water (Nanny’s Pot) on the corner of a narrow pathway, forcing the soldiers to pass by one by one. When the soldiers saw that they was no fire beneath the pot, they were compelled to look inside the pot, and upon doing so, fell in and died. She spared the life of the lone survivor so that he could be witnessed to the fate that awaited them at Nanny Town.

Queen Nanny was known to catch bullets with her hands and demonstrated it on the day of the signing of the treaty. She told a British officer to order his men to fire their muskets at her. At first, the officer thought it was a ploy to renew the war. He eventually gave the order and when his men fired rounds and rounds of bullets toward Nanny, she half turned her back, and with her hands between her legs, caught every bullet.

During a food shortage, which pushed the Maroons to the brink of starvation, Nanny was ready to surrender to the British. That’s when the voice of her ancestors spoke to her, telling her to wait. The next morning, she found three pumpkin seeds in her pocket. The voice of her ancestors told her to plant the seeds which she did on the side of a mountain now known as Pumpkin Hill. In a few days, the seeds miraculously bore fruit, saving the Maroons for famine.

Queen Nanny was the architect of the ‘Ambush’, the guerrilla tactic of camouflage where the Maroons disguise themselves as bush and trees, which baffled and deceived the British.

Irie