Regional

Maroon Christmas - PM commits to improving road to Accompong

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 14, 2019

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ACCOMPONG TOWN, St Elizabeth — Curious and fascinated by Maroon culture, many first-time and returned local and international visitors make the trip here to be a part of the annual January 6 celebration.

The event is to recognise the signing of the peace treaty between Maroons and the British and honour former Maroon leader, captain Cudjoe, on his birthday.

The day and night activities include a civic ceremony, a cultural feast of Maroons singing, drumming and dancing, taking time out with their ancestors and sharing unsalted pork and ground provision, prepared under the shade of the 'Kindah Tree,' with visitors.

According to Maroon tradition, a taste of the unsalted meal will bring good luck for the new year.

The 'Kindah' (which means one family) is represented by an old mango tree on the Accompong property where, historians say, in the past Maroons met to plan strategies and resolve differences.

The celebration is also a commercial scene, as vendors from near and far converge with products and services such as food, drink, clothing and craft items for sale among the bustling crowd.

The celebration is referred to as “Maroon Christmas”.

But to get the experience, guests also have to contend with the narrow and rugged terrain to and from the community.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was the keynote speaker at the civic ceremony earlier this month, has committed to relieving that discomfort.

“Nobody needs to tell me that the road from Cedar Spring to the town here needs to be repaired. I have written it down and I am going to ensure that it is done. I don't make any promises, I just make commitments. People travel when it is easier and seamless. If we fix the road, more people will come,” he said in his address.

Holness said that it is evident that the pull of the Maroon culture is still strong and more can be done from the tourism and agriculture side to develop the area, without losing its uniqueness.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Accompong community and Holness said that it was selected by the Government for a pilot project for ganja to be grown for the legal trade, based on the amended ganja law.

He said that it was selected because of the discipline and organised structure, influenced by the culture of harmony that is preserved.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange, said that festivals like the annual celebration in Accompong is a source of economic advancement and cultural and community development.

“Situated in the backbone of the Cockpit Country, Accompong brings much that is hoped for elsewhere in the world,” she said.

The Accompong celebration was held under the theme “Advancing to the future while standing true to our culture.”

Colonel of the Accompong Maroons, Ferron Williams, mentioned running water as a another major infrastructural development that the community needs.

“I am in constant dialogue with various Government entities, especially National Water Commission, with a view of improving the standard of living of Maroons in Accompong. The Cockpit Country provides 46 per cent of water supply in Jamaica but, unfortunately, Accompong is without running water,” he said in his printed message in the programme published for the event.

Williams said that he hopes that it will be corrected for 2019.


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