Historical documents refer to her as the “rebels’ old ‘obeah‘ woman.” Following some armed confrontations, colonial officials reached a settlement for peace. They legally granted “Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs … a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland …
The Maroons are descendants of West Africans, mainly people from the Ashanti region of what is today Ghana. After being brought to Jamaica in the course of the Transatlantic slave trade, many slaves fled from the oppressive conditions of plantations and formed their own communities in the rugged, hilly interior of the island. A minority of slaves originated from other regions of Africa, including the Congo and Madagascar; they were known as Coromantie or Koromantee, and were considered ferocious fighters. People who escaped from slavery joined the other Maroons.
Later, after the British assumed control of the colony, more slaves escaped from to join the two main bands of Windward and Leeward Maroons. By the early 17th century, these were headed respectively by Nanny of the Maroons and Captain Cudjoe. Between 1655 until the 1830s, these Maroons led most of the slave rebellions in Jamaica, helping to free slaves from the plantations. They raided and then damaged lands and buildings held by plantation owners.
The Maroons also contributed to the cooking technique of jerking, adapted from the Arawak. Chicken or pork pieces were cooked over a low fire using green pimento wood. The smoke was smothered in order to escape detection by British forces.
Life and work
Nanny was born into the Ashanti tribe about 1686 in what is now Ghana, West Africa. It is believed that some of her family members were involved in intertribal conflict and her village was captured. Nanny and several relatives were sold as slaves and transported to Jamaica. There she was likely sold to a plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, just outside the Port Royal area. The commodity crop was sugarcane, and the slaves toiled under extremely harsh conditions to cultivate, harvest and process it. Another version of her life tells that she was of royal African blood and came to Jamaica as a free woman. She may have been married to a man named Adou, but had no known children who survived.
As a child, Nanny was influenced by other slave leaders and maroons. She and her “brothers”, Accompong, Cudjoe and Quao, ran away from their plantation and hid in the Blue Mountains area of northern Saint Thomas Parish. While in hiding, they split up to organize more Maroon communities across Jamaica: Cudjoe went to Saint James Parish and organized a village, which was later named Cudjoe Town; Accompong settled in Saint Elizabeth Parish, in a community that came to be known as Accompong Town; and Nanny and Quao founded communities inPortland Parish.
Nanny became a folk hero. The British were unsuccessful in their attacks on Nanny Town, thanks to its strategic location, and her idea to control access to it. They fought off soldiers despite being outnumbered. Cudjoe also led slave rebellions in Jamaica.
By 1720, Nanny and Quao had settled and controlled an area in the Blue Mountains. It was given the name Nanny Town, and consisted of 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land granted by the government to the refugee slaves under a 1739 treaty ending the First Maroon Wars. Nanny Town had a strategic location overlooking Stony River via a 900-foot (270 m) ridge, making a surprise attack by the British practically impossible. The Maroons at Nanny Town also organized look-outs for such an attack, and designated certain warriors to be summoned by the sound of a horn called anabeng.
The community raised animals, hunted, and grew crops. Maroons at Nanny Town and similar communities survived by sending traders to the nearby market towns to exchange food for weapons and cloth. It was organized very much like a typical Ashantisociety in Africa.
The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantations, and leading freed slaves to join their mountain communities. Nanny was highly successful at organizing plans to free slaves. During a period of 30 years, she was credited with freeing more than 1000 slaves, and helped them to resettle in the Maroon community.
Leadership and Obeah
Many in her community attributed Nanny’s leadership skills to her obeah powers. Obeah is an African-derived religion that is still practised in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana,Barbados, Belize and other Caribbean countries. It is associated with both good and bad magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations, aspects of Obeah have survived through synthesis with Christian symbolism and practice introduced by European colonials and slave owners.
Nanny’s tribe of origin, Ashanti, strongly resisted Europeans in West Africa and the New World. She was also likely influenced by her brothers and other Maroons in Jamaica.
Nanny possessed wide knowledge of herbs and other traditional healing methods, practised by Africans and native islanders. She served as a physical and spiritual healer to her community, which in turn would elevate her status and esteem.
In the Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, 29–30 March 1733, is a citation for “resolution, bravery and fidelity” awarded to “loyal slaves … under the command of Captain Sambo”, namely William Cuffee, who was rewarded for having fought the Maroons in the First Maroon War and who is called “a very good party Negro, having killed Nanny, the rebels old obeah woman”. These hired soldiers were known as “Black Shots”.
Another record states that in 1739, a parcel of land named Nanny Town was awarded to “Nanny and her descendents” under a treaty with the colonial government. Some claim that Queen Nanny lived to be an old woman, dying of natural causes in the 1760s. The exact date of her death remains a mystery. Part of the confusion is that “Nanny” is an honorific, and many high-ranking women were called that in Maroon Town. However, the Maroons are adamant that there was only one “Queen Nanny.”
In 1739 the British governor in Jamaica signed a treaty with the Maroons, promising them 2500 acres (10 km²) in two locations. They were to remain in their five main towns – Accompong, Trelawny Town, Mountain Top, Scots Hall, Nanny Town – living under their own chiefs with a British supervisor in each town. In exchange, they agreed not to harbour new runaway slaves, but to help catch them for bounties. The Maroons were also expected to fight for the British in the case of an attack from the French or Spanish.
Nanny is known as one of the earliest leaders of slave resistance in the Americas, and one of few women in that role. She is celebrated in Jamaica and abroad.
- The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1976. Her portrait graces the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a “Nanny”.
- Nanny’s Monument is located in Moore Town, Portland, Jamaica.[13
Wikipedia also states
Nanny was born in what is now Ghana, West Africa, as a member of the Ashanti nation, part of the Akan people. She was enslaved, along with her five brothers, and brought to eastern Jamaica. She and her five brothers, Cudjoe, Accompong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao, quickly decided to flee the oppressive conditions of the sugar cane plantations to join the autonomous African communities of Maroons who had developed in the mountains. This community originated from people formerly enslaved by the Spanish, who had refused to submit to British control. This community developed as many more slaves escaped the plantations and joined the Maroons. Angered by continued raiding of plantations and armed confrontations, the colonial government mounted the FirstMaroon War of the 1730s in an effort to run out and capture the refugee slaves.
Nanny and her brothers split up in order to continue the resistance to the plantation slave economy across Jamaica. Cudjoe went to Clarendon, where he was soon joined by about a hundred Maroons from Cottawood; while Accompong went to St. Elizabeth, where a Maroon community was later named for him. Nanny and Quao made their way to Portland Parish and the Blue Mountains.
By 1720, Nanny and Quao had organized and were leading this settlement of Maroons; it was known as Nanny Town. According to a deed from the colonial government, Nanny was granted more than 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land where the Maroons could live and raise animals and grow crops. Due to the town being led by Nanny and Quao, it was organized similarly to a typical Ashanti tribe in Africa.
In addition to what they raised and produced, the Maroons sent traders to the cities to exchange food for weapons and cloth. The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantation, and leading liberated slaves to join them at Nanny Town.
Nanny Town was an excellent location for a stronghold, as it overlooked Stony River via a 900-foot ridge, making a surprise attack by the British virtually impossible. The Maroon organized look-outs for such an attack, as well as designated warriors, who could be summoned by the sound of a horn called an abeng.
Granny Nanny was very adept at organizing plans to free slaves. She has been credited with freeing more than 800 slaves over the span of 50 years. She also helped these slaves remain free and healthy due to her vast knowledge of herbs and her role as a spiritual leader. However, freeing slaves upset the British. Between 1728 and 1734, they attacked Nanny Town time and time again, but not once was it harmed. This was accomplished due to the Maroons being much more skilled in fighting in an area of high rainfall as well as disguising themselves as bushes and trees. The Maroons also utilized decoys to trick the British into a surprise attack. This was done by having non-camouflaged Maroons run out into view of the British and then run in the direction of the fellow Maroons who were disguised, thus crushing the British time and time again.
End of Wikipedia Extract Further information about Nanny’s family from Wikipedia below.
Nanny’s Brother Cudjoe
Cudjoe, or Captain Cudjoe (c. 1690 – 1744), sometimes spelled Cudjo – corresponding to the Akan day name Kojo or Kwadwo – was a Maroon leader in Jamaica during the time of Nanny of the Maroons. He has been described as “the greatest of the Maroon leaders.”
The Jamaican Maroons are descended from runaway slaves who established free communities in the mountains of Jamaica during the era of slavery on the island. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways, apparently mixing with theNative American Taino or Arawak people that remained in the country. Some may have gained liberty when the English attacked Jamaica and took it in 1655, and subsequently. For about 52 years, until the 1737 peace treaty with the British rulers of the island, the Maroons stubbornly resisted conquest.
See this documentary on the maroons of Kojos place https://youtu.be/36B_I8qjPJo