The Jamaican Maroons
The Jamaican Maroons are descendants of Africans who fought and escaped from slavery and established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica during the era of slavery. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways. Many slaves gained freedom when the English took control of Jamaica in 1655.
To this day, the Maroons in Jamaica are to a small extent autonomous and separate from Jamaican culture. The isolation used to their advantage by their ancestors has today led to their communities being amongst the most inaccessible on the island.
Eleven Maroon settlements remain on lands apportioned to them in the original treaty with the British. These Maroons still maintain their traditional celebrations and practices, some of which have West African origin. Native Jamaicans and island tourists are allowed to be present at many of these events, while others are held in secret and shrouded in mystery. Singing, dancing, drum-playing and preparation of traditional foods form a central part of most gatherings.In their largest town, Accompong, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, 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 6 January to commemorate the signing of the peace treaty with the British after the Maroon War.