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Maroons (from the word marronage or American/Spanish cimarrón: "fugitive, runaway", lit. "living on mountaintops"; from Spanish cima: "top, summit") were runaway slave in the West Indiesmarker, Central America, South America, and North America, who formed independent settlements together. They were at least partly Akan people.

History

In the New World, as early as 1512, black slaves had escaped from Spanish and Portuguese owners and either joined indigenous peoples or eked out a living on their own. Sir Francis Drake enlisted several 'cimaroons' during his raids on the Spanish. As early as 1655, runaway slaves had formed their own communities in inland Jamaicamarker, and by the eighteenth century, Nanny Town and other villages began to fight for independent recognition.

When runaway slaves banded together and subsisted independently they were called Maroons. On the Caribbean islandsmarker, runaway slaves formed bands and on some islands formed armed camps. Maroon communities faced great odds to survive against white attackers, obtain food for subsistence living, and to reproduce and increase their numbers. As the planters took over more land for crops, the Maroons began to vanish on the small islands. Only on some of the larger islands were organized Maroon communities able to thrive by growing crops and hunting. Here they grew in number as more slaves escaped from plantations and joined their bands. Seeking to separate themselves from whites, the Maroons gained in power and amid increasing hostilities, they raided and pillaged plantations and harassed planters until the planters began to fear a mass slave revolt.

The early Maroon communities were usually displaced. By 1700, Maroons had disappeared from the smaller islands. Survival was always difficult as the Maroons had to fight off attackers as well as attempt to grow food. One of the most influential Maroons was François Mackandal, a houngan, or voodoo priest, who led a six year rebellion against the white plantation owners in Haitimarker that preceded the Haitian Revolution.

In Cubamarker, there were maroon communities in the mountains, where escaped slaves had joined refugee Taínos. Before roads were built into the mountains of Puerto Rico, heavy brush kept many escaped maroons hidden in the southwestern hills where many also intermarried with the Natives. Escaped Africans sought refuge away from the coastal plantations of Ponce.Remnants of these communities remain to this day (2006) for example in Viñalesmarker, Cuba and Adjuntas, Puerto Rico.

Maroon communities emerged in many places in the Caribbean (St Vincentmarker and Dominicamarker for example), but none were seen as such a great threat to the British as the Jamaican Maroons. A British governor signed a treaty promising the Maroons 2500 acres (10 km²) in two locations, because they presented a threat to the British. Also, some Maroons kept their freedom by agreeing to capture runaway slaves. They were paid two dollars for each slave returned.

Beginning in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Jamaican Maroons fought British colonists to a draw and eventually signed treaties in the 18th century that effectively freed them over 50 years before the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. To this day, the Jamaican Maroons are to a significant extent autonomous and separate from Jamaican society. The physical isolation used to their advantage by their ancestors has today led to their communities remaining amongst the most inaccessible on the island. In their largest town, Accompongmarker, in the parish of St. Elizabethmarker, the Leeward Maroons still possess a vibrant community of about 600. Tours of the village are offered to foreigners and a large festival is put on every January 6 to commemorate the signing of the peace treaty with the British after the First Maroon War.

Culture

Slaves escaped frequently within the first generation of their arrival from Africa and often preserved their African languages and much of their culture and religion. African traditions include such things as the use of medicinal herbs together with special drums and dances when the herbs are administered to a sick person. Other African healing traditions and rites have survived through the centuries — see, for example, the accompanying photos of a medicine man and a protective charm from Suriname.

The jungles around the Caribbean Seamarker offered food, shelter, and isolation for the escaped slaves. Maroons survived by growing vegetables and hunting. They also originally raided plantations. During these attacks, the maroons would burn crops, steal livestock and tools, kill slavemasters, and invite other slaves to join their communities. Individual groups of Maroons often allied themselves with the local indigenous tribes and occasionally assimilated into these populations. Maroons/Marokons played an important role in the histories of Brazil, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica.

There is much variety among Maroon cultural groups because of differences in history, geography, African nationality, and the culture of indigenous people throughout the Western hemispheremarker.

Maroon/Marokon settlements often possessed a clannish, outsider identity. They sometimes developed Creole languages by mixing European tongues with their original African languages. One such Maroon Creole language, in Suriname, is Saramaccan. Other times the Maroons would adopt the local European language as a common tongue, for members of the community frequently spoke a variety of mother tongues.

The Maroons/Marokons created their own independent communities which in some cases have survived for centuries and until recently remained separate from mainstream society. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Maroon/Marokon communities began to disappear as forests were razed, although some countries, such as Guyanamarker and Surinamemarker, still have large Maroon populations living in the forests. Recently, many Maroons/Marokons have moved to cities and towns as the process of urbanization accelerates.

Akan names

The Maroons used Akan names:

Sunday: Quashie / Quasheba

Monday: Cudjoe / Kujo / Juba

Tuesday: Bene Cobena

Wednesday: Quaco Cooba

Thursday: Quaw Aba

Friday: Cuffe Fiba

Saturday: Quamin Mimba

Geographical distribution

North America

Florida

The Black Seminoles/Moors, Maroons/Marokons who allied with Seminole Indians in Florida, were by far the largest and most successful Maroon/Marokon community in North America.

Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotian Maroons were originally Jamaican Maroons who were deported to Nova Scotia in 1796 because of their rebellion against the colonial government in Jamaica. Many of their descendants are the Krios of Sierra Leone-see the article Nova Scotian Maroons.

Mexico

See Gaspar Yanga, Afro-Latin, Afro-Mexican.

Central America

Panama

By 1570 the number of Maroons in Villano, near Nombre de Diosmarker in the north of Panamamarker exceeded 2,000. See Cimarron people , Bayano.

Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua

See Garifuna.

Caribbean islands

Jamaica

When the British invaded Jamaicamarker in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled leaving a large number of Africans who they had enslaved. Rather than be re-enslaved by the British, they fled into the hilly, mountains regions of the island, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish to live with the Taínos. Over time, the Maroons came to control large areas of the Jamaican interior and they often moved down from the hills to raid the plantations.

They were highly organised and knew the country well. Because of this, additional run-away slaves joined them. The two main Maroon groups were the Trelawny Town or Leeward Maroons - at one time led by Cudjoe - and the Windward Maroons - led by Queen Nanny and later by Quao. The Maroons/Marokons were skilled hunters and warriors and, hard as they tried, the British Army could not control or defeat them.

Aboriginal Maroons/Marokons in Jamaica intermarried with Aboriginal Taíno and Aboriginal Miskito people from Central America, establishing independence in the back country as the island changed hands from the Spanish to the British in the 17th century. Originally Jamaican Maroons who fought against slavery maintained their independence from the British. However in the treaty of 1738 they were also paid to return captured slaves and fight for the British in the case of an attack from the French or Spanish. Many of them were deported in 1796 to Nova Scotiamarker and eventually to Sierra Leonemarker.

Famous among Maroon rebels was Queen Nanny, also known as Granny Nanny, leader of the Windward (Eastern) Maroons in the 18th century. She is the only female listed among Jamaican national heroes, and has been immortalized in songs and legends. She was known for her exceptional leadership skills, which were particularly important in the First Maroon War in the early 1700s. For example, she planned guerrilla warfare that confused the British Empire. Her remains are reputedly buried at "Nanny Bump" in Moore Town, the main town of the Windward Maroons who are concentrated in and around the Rio Grandemarker valley in the eastern parish of Portlandmarker.

Haïti

See Mawon.

Others

Similar Maroon communities emerged elsewhere in the Caribbean (St Vincent and Dominica for example), but none were seen as such a great threat to the British as the Jamaican Maroons. In Cuba, there were maroon communities in the mountains, where escaped slaves had joined refugee Taínos. Remnants of these communities remain to this day (2006) for example in Viñalesmarker.

South America

French Guiana

Live in the interior part of French Guianamarker, which mainly consists of difficultly penetratable jungle.

The Boni Maroon Wars in Suriname by Wim S.M. Hoogbergen gives an overall picture of the history of the Aluku, or Boni, in Surinamemarker from their origins until 1860, using the archives of the Netherlands, France and Suriname. Presently they live along the Lawa River, the border river between Surinamemarker and French Guianamarker, with about 2,000 people. They fled there after protracted warfare against the white planters and their colonial armies. Another author who wrote on the Boni history is John Gabriel Stedman. Other Maroon tribes still found in Suriname are the Saramaka, the Paramakans, the Ndyuka or Aukan, the Kwinti and the Matawai. By the 1990s these Suriname maroons had begun to fight for their land rights.

See also



Notes

  1. http://scholar.library.miami.edu/slaves/Maroons/individual_essays/leanna.html
  2. "Sir Francis Drake Revived" in Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14 paragraph 21.
  3. "Sir Francis Drake Revived" in Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14 paragraph 101.
  4. Campbell, Mavis Christine (1988) The Maroons of Jamaica, 1655–1796: A History of Resistance, Collaboration & Betrayal Bergin & Garvey, Granby, MA, ISBN 0-89789-148-1.
  5. Aimes, Hubert H. S. (1967) A History of Slavery in Cuba, 1511 to 1868 Octagon Books, New York;
  6. [1]
  7. "El Templo de los Cimarrones" Guerrillero:Pinar del Río in Spanish
  8. Edwards, Bryan (1801) Historical Survey of the Island of Saint Domingo J. Stockdale, London;
  9. Taylor, Alan (2001) American Colonies: The Settling of North America Penguin Books, New York;
  10. Edwards, Bryan (1796) "Observations on the disposition, character, manners, and habits of life, of the Maroon negroes of the island of Jamaica; |b an a detail of the origin, progress, and termination of the late war between those people and the white inhabitants." in Edwards, Bryan (1801) Historical Survey of the Island of Saint Domingo J. Stockdale, London, pp. 303-360;
  11. http://scholar.library.miami.edu/slaves/Maroons/individual_essays/leanna.html
  12. Case of the Saramaka People v. Suriname, Judgment of November 28, 2007, Inter-American Court of Human Rights (La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos), accessed 21 May 2009


References

  • Daughters of the Dust, 1991, film by Julie Dash taking place in 1902 off the coast of South Carolinamarker and Georgiamarker. It shows how, on an isolated island, a group of people manages to hold on to their Ibo customs and traditions. ISBN 0-525-94109-6
  • Ganga Zumba, (1963), film by Carlos Diegues
  • Quilombo, (1985), film by Carlos Diegues about Palmares, ASIN B0009WIE8E
  • Hoogbergen, Wim S.M. Brill (1997) The Boni Maroon Wars in Suriname Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-09303-6
  • Corzo, Gabino La Rosa (2003) Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba: Resistance and Repression (translated by Mary Todd), University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, ISBN 0807828033
  • De Granada, Germán (1970) Cimarronismo, palenques y Hablas “Criollas” en Hispanoamérica Instituto Caro y Cuero, Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia, OCLC 37821053 (in Spanish)
  • van Velzen, H.U.E. Thoden and van Wetering, Wilhelmina (2004) In the Shadow of the Oracle: Religion as Politics in a Suriname Maroon Society Waveland Press, Long Grove, Illinois ISBN 1577663233
  • Price, Richard (ed.) (1973) Maroon societies: rebel slave communities in the Americas Anchor Books, Garden City, N.Y., ISBN 0-385-06508-6
  • Honychurch, Lennox (1995) The Dominica Story Macmillan, London, ISBN 0333627768 (Includes extensive chapters on the Maroons of Dominica)
  • Thompson, Alvin O. (2006) Flight to freedom: African runaways and maroons in the Americas University of West Indies Press, Kingston, Jamaica, ISBN 9766401802
  • Learning, Hugo Prosper (1995) Hidden Americans: Maroons of Virginia and the Carolinas Garland Publishing, New York, ISBN 0815315430
  • Campbell, Mavis Christine (1988) The Maroons of Jamaica, 1655-1796 : a history of resistance, collaboration & betrayal Bergin & Garvey, Granby, Mass., ISBN 0-89789-148-1
  • Dallas, R. C. The History of the Maroons, from Their Origin to the Establishment of Their Chief Tribe at Sierra Leone. 2 vols. London: Longman. 1803.


External links




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