The conquest of Jamaica by the English in 1655 led to an influx of Western and Central Africans into the country through the slave trade. Consequently, a number of the enslaved escaped to various parts of the mountains, joining another group that had been released by the Spanish during the Invasion of Jamaica. These Free black people in Jamaica, who inhabited Moore Town, claim descent from escaped Africans and Taino men and women.
These people became known as the Jamaican Maroons. This migration disrupted the slave plantation, resulting in periodic wars between the Maroons and the British. After approximately 80 years of warfare, the Maroons controlled a sizeable amount of the mountainous forests of the eastern parts of Jamaica. Eventually, the British recognized their autonomy by offering them peace treaties which brought an end to the First Maroon War.
In 1739, Cudjoe, the leader of the Leeward Maroons in western Jamaica, signed a peace treaty that recognized the independence of Cudjoe’s Town (Trelawny Town) and Accompong. This treaty allowed them numerous benefits, including tax-free lands throughout the island. These lands are still home to succeeding generations of the original Maroons in western Jamaica.
The Center is at the time of writing still in the conceptual stages, but there is adequate momentum from the Maroon Council and the Institute of Jamaica to guarantee that the project will develop over the coming years.
The concept is to establish a museum and cultural center for the exhibition and preservation of Maroon heritage. Young people will be taught to make and play drums and the abeng, a traditional Maroon horn used to communicate over great distances.
The abeng is said to have struck fear into the hearts of the British, who were never able to conquer the Maroons. Craft items, toys, and a whole range of items considered the basis of the Maroon culture are also to be produced, and the center will have an adjoining gift shop and restaurant to accommodate visitors.