Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Enemy of the State: The Lampooned Maroons

1- a person who is marooned
2- capitalized : a Black person of the West Indies and Guiana in the 17th and 18th centuries who escaped slavery also : a descendant of such a person

The Present Maroon Conundrum

Statehood and Sovereignty

It is time for us to uncritically accept that Maroons played a vital role in the continuation of slavery as an institution. What is even more whimsical is that Jamaica currently enjoys amicable relations with governments that were directly responsible for slavery as an institution. What a conundrum!


There are five Maroon groups in the country, one of which has become a secessionist voice for social upheaval and that is the Accompong strand or branch. Thy have been purporting unsubstantiated claims of being a sovereign State, is being heard through its colonel, Mr. Richard Currie. These utterances have no legal standing, according to several legal minds. The most obvious demonstration of this is the fact that all Maroons travel on Jamaican-issued passports. The reality is that in the 12th year of his reign an edict of King George II of Great Britain and Jamaica empowered John Gutherie and Francis Sadler “to negotiate and finally conclude a treaty of peace and friendship” with Colonel Cudjoe and his captains. This would be known as the First Maroon Treaty of 1739.

An examination of the Treaty of the Leeward Maroons has indicated up to eight instances that speak to and against the authority and nationhood of the Maroons. The treaty acknowledges the leadership of the colonel by referring to his people as his “subjects” who, being in a “perfect state of freedom and liberty” (Article II)… will enjoy and possess, in perpetuity, land of 1,500 acres “between Trelawney Town and The Cockpits” (Article III). They have the right to trade outside of their bounds, but must do so under a license (Article IV).

According to a news item in the Jamaica Observer, the Cabinet has ordered the withholding of funds and support to any entity which claims to be a sovereign State. On Sunday BroGad played bad cop and stomped his foot down by declaring that Jamaica is a unitary State, and as such Accompong falls under the Government of Jamaica's legal ambit and, by extension, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and every government body there is.

Maroons are considered by some in academia to be Indigenous Peoples and that they should have rights under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But that paradox raises interesting questions as how can Maroons be both indigenous and  descended from Africa. I understand indigenous to refer to Native Americans and Aboriginal who are located at a place before our collective or maybe European history has record for. We know maroons are not even unique to Jamaica so how indigenous is it really?

There needs to be a consensus as to whether the Maroon communities are either a sovereign proto-state within a State, Imperium in imperio as it is known. Or maybe an indigenous reserve (much like the native indians in the US), or the average town flying the Jamaican flag? Vatican City and Eswatini are examples of this state within a state concept. It is a thing that can be done but Currie needs to be realistic and get about charting a course to statehood rather than proving a lack of legal and historical knowledge. Let us hope Brogad learnt from Busta's lessons and wont be blinded and create another Coral Gardens Massacre so close to our nation's special anniversary of independence.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Spirit of Montego Bay Award for Journalism

 Received this award for journalism last year. So much more work to be done this year!

Flash Point 2022

The Eye of the Tiger

Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
― Yvonne Woon, Dead Beautiful

As we look at 2021 in the rearview mirror, Jamaica, let's keep our eyes on the road through 2022. There be many a rut and potholes ahead for this chevied country as we will commemorate its 60th year of alleged political Independence from August 6, 1962. Before that, our beloved island was a British colony. And in discussing the British Monarchy and Jamaica, we cannot do so without acknowledging the history of how the relationship began. In 2001 The Transatlantic slave trade was recognised in the UN Durban Declaration as a crime against humanity. The total scale of loss and underdevelopment caused by the colonial project is almost incalculable. Jamaica's past cannot be undone; that does not mean her future must be determined by terms dictated centuries ago. We must examine this issue keenly, as 2022 is the Chinese year of the tiger. I think as Rasta lions, black panthers, maybe we use the eye of the tiger to examine this matter and to look at our collective future.

A rough guide to Jamaica's history goes like this: The island became an imperial colony in 1508 when Spain appropriated an indigenous peoples' land. In 1655, Brits forcefully got hold of the island with barely a battle, and thus the British Empire claimed it. Over time, slaves who seized their freedom joined the indigenous Taino on interior of the isle, eventually being labelled by Europeans as Maroons. The Maroons won one of the wars with British forces circa. 1728-1740 but then lost a second war circa. 1795-1796. In the 1800s, slavery was abolished after the rebellions of Sam Sharpe and Paul Bogle, it was then that Jamaicans derived the right to vote, though the British still maintained power.

Kicking off Pan Africanism in the 20th century, Marcus Garvey advanced black nationalism and went on to be the most illustrious black leader of that era. During the Great Depression, workers protested inequality and agitated the authorities in Jamaica and other Caribbean colonies. By 1943, labour leader Alexander Bustamante gained an electoral victory and founded a new, liberal constitution. After the Second World War, Jamaican leadership formulated the government structure to gear up for Independence. In 1962, Bustamante's party the Jamaica Labour Party won the election and he became premier. That year, the Britain's Parliament formally accorded Jamaica Independence, and Bustamante was converted to the independent country's first prime minister.

2022 is Jamaica's Flash Point, and in the regional political aftermath of Barbados declaring its republican status, disembarrassing itself of the bonds of England's monarchy, Jamaicans returned to its chant for republican standing. Now to boldly go where Caribbean nations have gone before, our Constitution requires that there be a national referendum, until then we are all loyal subjects of Her Majesty The Queen, her heirs, and successors. BroGad does not seem apt to the task as he keeps genuflecting to Trump and Biden, so willing to toby to the United States that he says we live in their backyard and begged Her Majesty to be Privy to the Council. Prime Minister Holness, in his usual political cowardice and dodgy shiftiness, has replied by alleging that there are numerous developmental matters that must be handled before he can unctuously and unconditionally defend ending the nation's noose held by Brittany. A powerful question is: If not now, when? If it is not us, who?

It has been argued that Jamaica has not yet reached a level of economic development that would warrant a Jamaican head of State. Similar ideas and questions were posed at the time of Independence. In 1962 commentators posited the stage of Jamaica's social development and cast doubt on the new nation's ability to exist as a stable democracy. We must remember that loyalty to the Crown was once sacrosanct for many Jamaicans and I suspect BroGad; some called Britain the motherland. Generations later, despite their labour and migration, status and statehood is disavowed by the UK's Foreign Ministry

The existence of a developmental stage at which Jamaica should have her own head of State implies pastoral and benevolent qualities of monarchy, a benevolence that slavery has shown us is not characteristic of England in reality. Is it true that Jamaica should at some point become a parliamentary republic only when arbitrary goals or conditions have been met. NO! Jamaicans have always deserved sovereignty!

Just imagine, how would our national heroes and heroine react to the question of our nation moving forward to being a republic? Like many a christian ask, what would Jesus do? We ask ourselves now as a nation; What would Marcus Garvey undoubtedly say but, “Up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will.” Norman Manley, who had already said, “Mission accomplished,” with regard to the acquisition of political Independence, would at present emphasize that the route to economic independence, which is the next pivotal step, may only be rightfully attained within the context of self-rule, emboldened by full sovereignty. Sam Sharpe would want to know if he had died in vain, after resisted  his colonial masters, choosing to die on yonder gallows rather than live in slavery. Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, who both gave their lives as well for the noble cause of freeing their black brothers and sisters from oppression, would be impatient in terms of their country doing what is long overdue and what is right. Finally, Nanny, who helped to defeat our British masters, would be shocked to know that we are still kowtowing to Her Majesty or whomever sits on the British throne. Time has come!

On that note, the nation must realize that the acquisition of republican standing is inextricably joined to constitutional reform. As the UWI and UTech conveyor belt churn out lawyers yearly, and the nation has many inside and outside of the political sphere, yet our legislative agenda has been less than spectacular. Golding has shown a knack for getting things done legally, as is evidenced by his stint as minister of justice from 2012 to 2016. This is his opportunity to spearhead a thrust that the nation needs. But key to this movement is for there to be intensive public education, as well as community and sectoral discussions so that the people can understand what is at stake.

Now the major question is... What will Jamaica look like when every child learns that their countries' leadership has thrown off the vestiges of colonialism and their sovereignty is not circumscribed; how then will they chart Jamaica's future?

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Social Advocate, Community Activist and Legal Student.  Follow on Twitter & Instagram @yahnyk. Follow on Youtube @ and Reply to yannickpessoa@gmail.com