Sunday, March 9, 2008


Today, March 8, 2008, a million women AND ONLY WOMEN WITH THEIR CHILDREN, will converge on London at 12:00 noon. They will march to Hyde Park Corner and commemorate the tragedy of the 129 women who burnt to death. The musical score of the BBC radio dram “Rebel Woman” will accompany their footfalls as they march.

They will declare “Enough violence to women and towards children.”

Then they will pay homage to Queen Nanny of the Maroons. The figure of Nanny lies between history and legend. She remains a myth. We must remember that much of what is commonly called Myth is true. The Rebel Woman Nanny. Was she a queen or a slave? Or a queen who was captured and became a slave?

She came from Ghana, the Ashanti ruled Ghana then. Warriors of both sexes fought. Ferociously. She was born in 1680. No one really knows what happened. The victors write so much of history. What is certain is that Nanny arrived in Jamaica a slave. It was a Jamaica in bloody revolt against the English.

Thanks to Christopher Columbus, Jamaica had once been part of the Spanish Empire. As the Empire declined the English under Oliver Cromwell took over the island and continued the horrendous colonization, which Spain had initiated.

Back to Nanny. The English Army and the British West India Company was unable to crush or even contain the many revolts. Throughout Jamaica the slaves who had run away and removed their chains had declared themselves free. They set up their own villages, colonies and plantations. These former slaves were called Maroons. These communities were well organized and run better than the English ones. No one has ever explained to my satisfaction the use of the word maroon. Is it a sinister one I wonder? African women lot the respect and the honor they had in Africa once they reached the Americas. The women became breeders. More often than not, the Male Masters of a plantation repeatedly raped the women in order to breed lighter skinned slaves – hence the word maroon.

Nanny refused to bow her head or bend the knee. With her five brothers, she ran away when she was least expected to do so because she was pregnant. There was a hurricane coming straight for Jamaica. She decided that was the best time to act because their pursuers would be too terrified to come after them in the middle of 100 mile an hour winds.

Nanny and her five brothers dispersed and took to the rain forests. In 1720, she and her brother Quao took total control of Blue Mountain Rebel Town. It was renamed Nanny town in her honor. Nanny town consisted of 600 acres, which she and her followers had carved out of the rain forest and with backbreaking work had turned into lush agricultural lands. Thanks to Nanny’s military genius Nanny Town was impregnable. Perched high among the hills, the only way to reach it was through a narrow passageway in the river below. She had lookouts posted among the trees, high above the river. It was an early warning system. They warned them of any invading units or even armies. Time after time the English suffered humiliating routs.

“We take no white prisoners,” ordered Queen Nanny.

They raided plantation after plantation, liberating the slaves and then taking them back to Nanny Town. In this way the freemen founded other communities and towns.

Queen Nanny was a skilled guerilla fighter and a master of camouflage and disguises. If you remember Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Macduff’s men camouflaged as trees and bushes, you will appreciate Nanny’s tactics: they were identical. Brain will outdo brute force, most of the time.

Then the English brought in their deadliest cannons from the Mother Country – England. Hills and valleys vanished under the constant volleys of the merciless cannons. After a long siege, the Maroons resistance was crushed.

Because of Nanny Town’s strategic position, and the fact that the English lost their cannons as soon as they ventured into the narrow pass before reaching the river; they signed what was for them a humiliating treaty.

Queen Nanny and 500 of her followers “deigned to accept a treaty” from the English. In it, Queen Nanny and all her people were declared free men and women with the ability to transact business and run their own plantations.

She was aware that those who have unlimited power and wealth have no compunctions about violating treaties, women and children. Soon, she had 800 of the best-trained guerillas in the Caribbean. She governed / ruled them for 50 years. The lookouts never left their posts. To be sure, other young men and women took their places. The free men had shown the islanders that they preferred death to Slavery.

She must have been endowed with a cosmic charisma. She was highly intelligent. I am really sorry Dr. Watson. I don’t think we whites are more intelligent than Africans. Queen Nanny showed the English what she and her people could do – once they begun thinking what and how a white man would do.

Queen Nanny also had juju – magic. Now, now, do not ridicule or belittle this statement. Those of us, who know even a little never, never talk about it. Those of you who do not have a clue blather on.

May the spirit and souls of Santa Francesca, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, the 15.00 marching women and the 129 burnt shards of the striking women live on within us and within our children.

For more photos of women around the world celebrating the day of the woman, link to:

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