Peace at Last to Present Day

ACCOMPONG TOWN

On January 6th 1738, Colonel Guthrie and Colonel Cudjoe exchanged hats as a sign of friendship and, after some discussion, the treaty was agreed to under a big mango tree then called Cudjoe’s tree and today called the Kindah “One Family” tree. By its terms the Maroons were granted full freedom and liberty, given 1,500 acres of land and the right to hunt wild pig anywhere except within a 3 mile limit of a town or plantation. Cudjoe was appointed Chief Commander in Trelawny Town and his successors in order beginning with Accompong and Johnny. The Chief Commander or “Colonel” as he is called today is empowered to inflict any punishment he thinks proper for non-capital crimes committed by his people except those requiring the death sentence when then they are handed over to a justice of the peace. The Maroons had to agree to end all hostilities, receive no more runaway slaves and further agreed to help recapture them for a reward when the runaways were returned to their owners. Finally the Maroons had to agree to suppress any local uprising or foreign invasion. The following year a similar treaty was agreed to and signed with Quao, Chief of the Windward Maroons in what is called Moore Town today. The First Maroon War had officially ended and more than 50 years of peace ensued. Two more conflicts were later dubbed the Second Maroon War and the Third Maroon War but neither of these involved the Accompong Town Maroons. They remained neutral in both conflicts and remain so today.

Not all historical accounts written by Western scholars agree with the Maroon Historian’s versions of those same events. One such example is the signing of the Peace Treaty ending the First Maroon War. No mention of the Peace Cave as the official site of the treaty signing can be found in history textbooks but Maroon Historians insist that Colonel Guthrie and Colonel Cudjoe signed the Peace Treaty in a “blood brother” ceremony within its confines. Location of that original Peace Treaty is hard to pin down as the Maroon Historians only say a trusted Maroon elder is the keeper of this valuable document and keeping its location secret is a top priority. Accompong Town is a relatively new settlement as the original village “Old Town” where Cudjoe is buried was abandoned in favor of higher ground when Accompong, his brother, took over leadership of the Maroons. This “Old Town” is considered sacred ground today and a secret ceremony is performed there each January 6th when the signing of the Peace Treaty is celebrated. The position of “Colonel” was once a lifetime position but now has been modified to a 5 year elected position.

In the 277 plus years since the Peace Treaty was signed, the Accompong Maroons have had only 1 unfortunate incidence of a capital crime requiring the intervention of a justice of the peace making this a truly remarkable place. There are no Jamaican Police stationed in Accompong and the substation in Maggotty is on-call if needed but that has rarely been necessary as the Maroons are quite capable of policing themselves. There are no ground-based telephones in Accompong. Pipe water is non-existent and rain water collection is necessary to supply drinking and washing water. Electricity has been available for a number of years but not in all homes. The roads to Accompong Town are in dire need of repair and only local professional drivers or vehicles built for off-road terrain should attempt to drive there. Some new Guest Houses have been constructed as of late and overnight, as well as Day Visits by tourists, are roundly encouraged by the Maroon Council and community members.

The future of Accompong and its residents has been called into question. No jobs in the community mean that many Maroons have to go past the gate to get employment. Efforts to preserve the history, folklore, music and craft making skills have been ongoing as well as training the youth to carry on the proud traditions is being instituted. Approximately 500 residents live in Accompong Town or in the surrounding Cockpit Country. Another possible 5,000 live around Jamaica and still another 10,000 or more are scattered in foreign countries like Canada, the US and Great Britain. However, as they say, “once a Maroon, always a Maroon!”