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Black History Month - Jamaica's Queen Nanny Of The Maroons

By Khadijah Yayefall Ndiaye

While we celebrate our Black History Every Month, it is time to pay homage to a powerful woman, Queen Nanny. The courageous Queen Nanny was born around 1685 in Ghana, and reported to belong to the Ashanti tribe, married to Adou, with no children. She escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica The Maroons, Africans who escaped from slavery in the Americas, were already an established culture since escaping bondage in 1655 when Spanish and British colonizers battled for control of Jamaica.

They skillfully fled to the treacherous mountains that made it all but impossible to be captured. (The term, Maroon, may have come from the Spanish word cimarron, meaning wild.) When Nanny and her siblings escaped, they joined the Maroons in the mountains and helped form free, sovereign Black communities, operating outside of British colonization. Queen Nanny's brilliant mind led expeditions into enemy territory to successfully attack plantations and free at least 1,000 enslaved people. Historians have documented that she fought tremendous odds to help our people escape slavery.

In the book, The Mother of Us All: A History of Queen Nanny, author Karla Gottleib says, “The story of the Maroonsis unique in history. How several hundred escaped slaves with no uniforms, no supply of guns and ammunition except those that they were able to steal or obtain covertly, no steady supply of food, and no secure living place, could fend off the best soldiers of an empire that had an almost endless supply of sophisticated heavy artillery, including portable swivel guns, a seemingly endless supply of new soldiers, as well as a wealth of material resources, is a historical feat that probably could never be duplicated. ”Violence heightened between the Maroons and British around the 1730s. Nanny town (named after her) suffered a heavy loss in the bloody encounter in 1734 when the British ambushed them while they were asleep.

However, several Maroons survived because a new Nanny town (called Moore Town) was already inhabited and people had been migrating there. It is believed that Queen Nanny was killed by the British in 1730s, but no one is sure of the date. She is credited with being the main figure that united Maroons across Jamaica and played a major role in preservation of African culture, pride and knowledge. Many believe that Queen Nanny was an Obeah woman (someone with superpowers, trained in traditional, Spiritual sciences) and that is what gave the Maroons the upper hand. Many mythical stories have been told of her astonishing abilities. I have heard legends about Queen Nanny, such as her catching bullets with her hands (which was a highly developed art form in some parts of Africa).

Even though some may not believe that, the facts remain that she is one of the greatest Female Warriors who sacrificed for us all to live a peaceful life. Therefore, she is truly the Queen of Jamaica, and should be included in history for people, all over, to know about her. Her life and accomplishments have been recognized by the Government of Jamaica which honored her as one of seven National Heroes awarded the title of Right Excellent. Queen Nanny is the first and only woman Heroine! A portrait based on her description is on the Jamaican $500 note. Every January 6, in honor of the birthday of Nanny's brother, Captain Cudjoe, a Maroon festival is celebrated in the mountainous Accompong Town, complete with cultural rituals, reenactments of camouflaged resistance, savory food, and handmade crafts.

Sources:,, The History of Jamaica,

Volume II, by Edward Long,

Khadijah YayeFall Ndiaye is a conscious worldwide reporter, writer and photographer based in Philadelphia, PA. She writes for Woloftimes and works with the Most Wanted Film production crew based in Senegal. She is an activist, loves her African/Caribbean background and strives to express that as much as possible through her writing. She says I am very excited to be a part of

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