Sound the Abeng: At The Brink of an Environmental Misstep in Jamaica.

More than likely, you are familiar with the music of Jamaica’s iconic Bob Marley, its world-class beaches, and the dominance of the Jamaican sprint demi-god, Usain Bolt. You might even know that near the middle of this island lies a bountiful rainforest, known as the Cockpit Country, which is the home of 90% of the global population of black-billed amazon, a parrot endemic to Jamaica. But you might not know about Nanny, the most significant figure in the history of the Jamaican Maroon struggle for freedom.  If you don’t know about Nanny, you should.

Queen Nanny, as she is reverentially referred to, was the formidable leader of the Jamaican Maroons, a term which was used by the British to refer to escaped slaves who formed communities in the forests and mountains of Jamaica. It is believed that she was born in the latter half of the 17th century in what is now present-day Ghana and that she was brought to Jamaica not as a slave but as a free person. She and the Maroons led most of the slave rebellions in Jamaica, helping to free slaves from the plantations. In 1739 the British government ended the first Maroon Wars by granting land to the Maroons under a Treaty. Since then, the Cockpit Country has been the home of the indigenous Maroon community which has been given significant autonomy by the Jamaican government. I remember learning about Nanny when I was a little girl growing up in Jamaica and being just as enamored with this relatable, Caribbean “wonder woman” as with the natural beauty of the Cockpit Country.