General Travel

Cudjoe Day in “The Land Of Look Behind”

It’s daybreak and the drumming commences. First in rhythmic syncopation, then twisting and changing to accompany the intricate harmonies and foot-stomping march as the Maroons make their pilgrimage to Old Town, Accompong’s burial place. After a somewhat secret ceremony attended by the descendants of the fierce Maroon warriors at Accompong’s grave site, the procession moves on to the Kindah Tree, a huge silk cotton tree, where on March 1, 1739 the Peace Treaty was signed ending the First Maroon War.

This is January 6th…”The Day”. From around the globe, Maroon descendants converge on Accompong town from wherever they have gone to follow the “Money Fly”. The “Money Fly” is a shiny, blue tinged insect that is rarely seen except when flying out the window! But, when it lands in your hand, “WoooooWeee!” Whether it was to Panama to build a canal, to fight in the War of 1812 or World War II they went to build a future but always return home to celebrate their rich and proud heritage.

Accompong Town is located in the wildest heights of the virtually unexplored Cockpit Country. From this vantage point, Cudjoe and his brothers, Accompong and Johnny were able to conduct a fierce guerrilla campaign through ambush and attrition. Named the district of “The Land of Look Behind” by the nervous English soldiers who rode two to a horse with their backs to one another to protect against a surprise attack but nothing seemed to work.

From the fateful day in 1690 that Cudjoe walked away from a slave plantation at a place called Suttons, throughout the more than 50 years of combat to follow and more than 260 years of self-government after signing the Peace Treaty, the Maroons have lived a life of controlled isolation.

It can get cool in the winter here in the mountains but the night is alight with the fires of celebration. Sound systems and live music have turned “The Day” into a three or more day celebration. To miss the January 6th Celebration makes any traveler’s visit to Jamaica incomplete. Like a pilgrimage to Mecca, it should be required to go at least one time in one’s life as Accompong Town exists as a living monument to man’s struggle to be free and a real testament to living in peace and harmony.

If you would like to make the January 6th, 2003 “Celebration” part of your visit to Jamaica, contact Bill Evans at: [email protected] or [email protected] Some guest rooms are still available and transportation can be arranged from around the Island.

About the author

Bill Evans