PORT ANTONIO — The best of maroon culture and heritage were on display on Saturday June 25 at Asafu Yard in Charles Town, Portland.
Organised by the Charles Town Maroons, the day was the culmination of the third annual International Maroon Convention, which began on Thursday June 23, to honour and draw national and international attention to the unique history, cultural heritage and practises of maroon communities in Jamaica.
Dedicated to legendary maroon leader and hero Captain Quao, the day featured a number of cultural performances in the maroon tradition including dancing, drumming, singing, the blowing of the abeng and poetry, and a fashion show highlighting African dressing and clothing designs.
Held under the theme: ‘The Return – return to values of the past as the way to sustain the future,’ the function was attended by a wide cross section of persons including academics, representatives of community groups and local and international organisations.
In giving the keynote address, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Evadney Coye, expressed her admiration for the theme chosen for the convention and called on the nation to make a special effort to return to the exemplary values, which where the hallmark of the society in former years.
Stating that the maroons were eminently qualified to lead this effort because of the discipline and dedication with which they led the struggle against oppression, she said the heritage given to Jamaica by the maroon community was one of which all citizens can be proud.
Declaring that the maroon heritage is one from which the country can draw for its future development, she said the country should use it to inspire the building of a society, which produces responsible homes and communities that will make the nation an excellent example for the rest of the world.
Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Peter Oyedele, in his address, expressed delight to be associated with the activity, and praised the maroon community for the historical role they have played in the struggle for freedom and their effort to preserve the heritage and customs brought by their forbearers from Africa.
Noting the historical linkage between Nigeria and Jamaica, he said there has been a strong relationship between both countries over the years, with regular visits and the taking up of residence by citizens of either country in the other.
Lamenting that there is still no direct airline service between Jamaica and Nigeria, despite both countries having diplomatic relations since 1970, Mr. Oyedele expressed confidence that the cooperation between Jamaicans and Nigerians will become even closer, once that link is established.
By ASTON G. BAILEY, JIS Reporter