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Ghana and Jamaica: What Connects the Two?

Oct 26, 2022 11:00AM ● By Candice Stewart

Akwaaba and Welcome

Nestled within the eastern section of the Blue and John Crow Mountains, in the parish of Portland, Jamaica is a Maroon Town called Moore Town. It is known to be the resting place of Queen Nanny Of The Maroons. She is the only female national hero whose effigy appears on the country's 500-dollar bill.

Embedded in community is more than the story of the Maroons; how they came to be and the intertwining of slave rebellions. Another gem exists and that is the Kromanti Experience.  

Maurice Lee, CEO and Tour Guide of Kromanti Experience often greets his guests with "Akwaaba" before he officially starts his tours in the Maroon town of Moore Town in Portland. Akwaaba is translated as "Welcome" in the Kromanti Language. 

The greeting is a form of expressing that you're home and among friends so there's no need to be concerned for anything.

Started in 2015, the Kromanti Experience is a tour company geared towards education about the Maroons in Portland with their side of the many stories told by colonizing powerheads for many years. The Experience was just a thought three years prior that underwent discussions with trial-and-error moments. Additionally, Lee wanted a different and more positive outlook for visitors to his community. 

Maurice Lee, CEO of the Kromanti Experience |Source: Being Jamaican

"As far as I know, tours about people and communities that have come out of slavery and wars for their freedom often look sad and depressing with shackles and horrible story endings. I felt that it was in part my duty to provide a different perspective. We had warriors and our ancestors were so self-sufficient that they taught us resilience and community building by being resourceful people. The tour is about clearing up any misconception about my people based on the lies of colonizers." the Kromanti Experience CEO tells FunTimes

"Kromanti is more than just a language to us. It is our dance, our drumming, music - it is embedded in us and ultimately our way of life. The aim is to showcase some of that with the world," he continues.

The Kromanti Experience not only provides a time warp to the stories and legacy of Moore Town and its ancestors including Queen Nanny, it also has a brand that served as an income generator for the community.

"The tour is also a means of economic development for the Moore Town community. Next to that, Kromanti Experience is also about giving back. Proceeds from the tour go directly to schools within the community. The Moore Town Basic and Primary School continue to benefit from the tour proceeds as well as collaborative efforts between Mr. Lee and local and international groups," says the Kromanti Experience CEO.

The Kromanti Experience gives one a walking tour through parts of the Moore Town community. It highlights the endemic flora in the area which get featured in stories of how Maroons would use them medicinally. Key locations that played significant roles in slavery rebellions, are the monuments of Queen Nanny and one Maroon Chief; these are also features of the tour. There is a brief hike that ends at the beautiful waterfalls named after Queen Nanny herself - Nanny Falls.

Graphic featuring a monument of Queen Nanny of the Maroons erected by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust in Moore Town, Portland Jamaica. | Source: Kromanti Experience 

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The Kromanti Language in Jamaica

from the Jamiekan Langwij Yuunit

Within Moore Town is at least one West African language, Kromanti. 

Kromanti is an Akan language that is closely related to languages of the Akan language cluster, notably Twi and Fante which are important languages in modern day Ghana.

According to reports, Kromanti survived as a language of normal everyday communication amongst the Maroons up until the early decades of the 20th century. 

Since then, its use has receded and it is known mainly by elderly members of the community.  It is mainly restricted to the religious and ceremonial life of the community.

There is a ritual ceremony known as Kromanti Play. It is a ceremony used to invoke ancestral spirits, involving dances, songs and special styles of drumming in which the language is used to address the ancestors. The ceremony, inclusive of the linguistic aspects, is the most distinctive feature which distinguishes the Maroons of Moore Town from non-Maroon Jamaicans. 

However, it is reported that its survival is under threat. Due to traditions of secrecy, fewer and fewer young Maroons have less knowledge of the language and as a consequence the accompanying cultural heritage associated with it.

CEO of the Kromanti Experience speaking with a group during one of the tours in Moore Town, Portland,  Jamaica. | Source: Kromanti Experience

It is against this background that UNESCO, in 2003, named the Maroon Heritage of Moore Town (Jamaica), as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

It must be said, however, that Moore Town is not the only Maroon Town in Jamaica where Kromanti exists. There are also Charles Town and Scott's Hall.

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The Kromanti Origin and Traces Across the Caribbean - Coromantyn

Similar to Jamaica, other countries within the region have the Kromanti culture. 

"Kromanti" originates from a major slaving port on the Gold Coast, modern day Ghana, which was known to the Europeans as Coromantyn. The port was located in the Akan-speaking area of West Africa and was a source for large numbers of slaves of Akan ethnic and linguistic background. 

So, as a result of the Atlantic Slave Trade, there are many parts of the Americas and the Caribbean including Suriname, Guyana and Carriacou where Coromantyn and similar labels have been used for ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups with what appear to be of Akan origins. 

Maurice Lee, CEO of the Kromanti Experience smiles while looking at the sign to one of the monuments in Moore Town, Jamaica. | Source: Kromanti Experience

This was a small look into the Kromanti Experience and how connected it is to West Africa. Though history was not kind to slavery, Coromantyn still exists and our people are still connected to the motherland. If you're ever in Jamaica, make time to visit Moore Town by way of the Kromanti Experience. 

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Caribbean Indigenous and Endangered Languages: Kromanti - Di Jamiekan Langwij Yuunit, UNESCO

Kromanti - Hubert Devonish, Department of Language, Linguistics & Philosophy, University of the West Indies, Mona

 Candice Stewart is a Jamaican content writer specializing in human interest feature stories. She is a web content writer, blogger, and budding podcaster. 
She holds an MA in Communication for Social and Behaviour Change and a BSc. in Psychology from the University of the West Indies (UWI, Mona).

Follow her blog at, where she shares stories and life lessons through real-life experiences.

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