The True Traditions of my Ancestors
Colonel C.L.G. Harris
If a prize should be offered to any section of the Jamaican population that has been able to establish the longest and most colourful association with the island as its undeniable accomplishment, the winner would be my ancestors, the Maroons, and by a wide margin. Only the aborigines--the Arawak Indians--surpass the Maroons in terms of duration of occupancy. The story is a short and simple one, but to tell it in a meaningful way means a long and winding chain of explanations of various aspects of the story.
The majority of Maroons, as my ancestors came to be referred to, originally came from West Africa. Oral tradition claims that the majority of those who came were mainly of the Ashanti ethnic group, who were forcibly brought to Jamaica as slaves by the Spaniards who, as history has it, were later defeated by the English. Consequently, some of the slaves fled to Cuba. Others who did not flee swore never to be slaves again. They stood by their word, escaped from bondage and fought to maintain their freedom for over eighty years of bitter warfare against the British. The victory of the Maroons had far-reaching implications for world history.
Firstly, for black people throughout the world it established the fact that slavery was not an acceptable condition of life. Secondly, compliance might have eased the conscience of those devout men in England who argued for the abolition of the system, and allowed their tacit support. Unequivocal repudiation by the Maroons created an atmosphere charged with life-giving oxygen for the lungs of sanity. Today, it is not immediately obvious to people from outside Jamaica, and even to many insiders, how different the Maroons were or are from