On June 21-23, the Charles Town Maroon Council hosted their eleventh annual Maroon Conference and Festival under the theme: ‘Peace’. The festival was founded by the late Colonel Frank Lumsden. It represents a reclamation and preservation of Maroon ancestry and heritage. Inside the Asafu Yard, which is the sacred space for Maroon dancing and drumming buzzed with anticipation and excitement. While on the outside, vendors were stationed with a wide variety of handmade crafts and food. Both visitors and community members had high expectations for the weekend of activities:
The three-day Maroon festival and conference is of great importance and is highly anticipated each year; both by community members and visitors. Not only is it geared towards raising awareness of the Maroons and their culture but also to boost the development of tourism in the community of Charles Town, Portland.
For the weekend festival, attendees camped on site or utilized the community’s Bed and Breakfast options.
The main components of the three-day festival were a two-day academic conference, a wellness village, the Maroon Indigenous Women Circle and Ancestor Quao’s Victory Day. The academic conference consisted of panels with local and international scholars. With the broad scope and understanding, the community discussed the conference’s theme and sub-themes to enlighten participants.
The incorporation of a wellness village is synonymous with the Maroon’s belief in the connection of the body, mind and spirit. They believe that the path to health includes a state of well-being and wellness. The wellness village featured a range of activities such as energy healing, healing ceremonies, yoga and hands-on therapy.
Gaa’maa Gloria ‘Mau Mau G’ Simms conceptualized The Maroon’s Indigenous Women’s Circle which is now one of the highlights of the festival. Many women came to “Make Peace with the Past” as well as to release layers of unwanted feelings and energies by replacing them with love and light.
The festival ended with a bang as Ancestor Quao’s Victory Day stole the show. June 23rd marks the anniversary of the signing of the Peace Treaty for the Windward Maroons by Captain Quao. It was a festive day, filled with performances and presentations by the five maroon communities, local community members and dignitary guests.
Libations were offered to the various ancestors by the different groups. Throughout the day, patrons were entertained by the display of the Charles Town Drummers and Dancers. They performed a variety of songs, dances, and drumming that evoked deep feelings of pride. Drumming is an important aspect of Maroon culture dating back to slavery. It served as recreation to the slaves. Drumming was also used in their worship and celebrations. Below are highlights from some of the performances:
‘The event organizers stayed true to their word by keeping the festival 100% Jamaican. The festival had a variety of Jamaican cuisines ranging from roast corn to jerk pork. ‘Jerk’ was invented by the Taino and adapted by the Maroons to prepare pigs. Maroons are herbalist; therefore, they do not use powdered seasonings. Instead, they use the leaves from spice trees.
Other activities from the festival included music and drumming by the river, a presenters’ banquet and a movie night. The Charles Town Maroon Conference and Festival promises to be bigger and better each year in order to educate Africans at home and abroad about us.
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