On Sunday, January 6, residents of the maroon community of Accompong in St. Elizabeth, as well as persons from across the island, will gather for the annual celebration marking Captain Cudjo’s birthday and the 270th year of the signing of the peace treaty with Britain.
It was in 1738 after over 80 years of almost constant fighting that the then governing Assembly of Jamaica, under instructions from the Queen of England, made overtures to Captain Cudjo for an end to the conflict. Two officers were dispatched to negotiate an amicable settlement.
As part of the arrangement, which was signed and witnessed in blood at the ‘Peace Cave’, the Accompong Maroon Treaty came into being and significant benefits, such as many acres of land and internal self government, were given to a ruling Maroon Council. Currently, there are 20 members in the Council, which is headed by a Colonel, Sidney Peddie.
Colonel Peddie told JIS News that the 270th anniversary would be special this time around.
"As is the custom, we have already began our preparations and so all who will be making the journey can be assured of adequate security, which will be provided by both the Jamaica Constabulary Force as well as our own people,. There will be many authentic items on display as well as the traditional foods and cultural performances by not just the Accompong maroons but also from other maroon communities, such as Scott’s Hall and Moore Town," he said.
Colonel Peddie said visitors are being encouraged to arrive early on January 6.
"Thousands of persons make the annual trek and so there will be a lot of motor vehicles on the road. We operate a one-way system, so obey the instructions along the route," he advised.
The Colonel said that the first item on the agenda would be a gathering under the Kinda Tree, where unsalted pork is prepared for the feeding of those present as well as the ancestors at Old Town.
"This takes place relatively early and is normally accompanied by many forms of singing and drumming as well as the use of white rum for purification purposes," he said.
Mr. Peddie explained that after that ceremony, "true born maroons" would make a sacred pilgrimage down to Old Town, which was the location of the first Village set up by Captain Accompong, Cudjo’s brother, to feed the ancestral spirits.
"While this is going on, visitors can wander around and experience the many signs and sounds of modern day Accompong. By early afternoon, we will have our official ceremony, which normally features visiting delegates on the parade grounds. Bring your family, as there is a lot that you can learn from us about early Jamaican culture," he told JIS News.