Nanny of the Maroons
Nanny, or Granny Nanny as she was affectionately called, was a brilliant military strategist. She was equally adept at being a shrewd military tactician and the spiritual leader of the Windward Maroons, providing the group with military and religious stability. She unified the Maroon alliance and directed an effective resistance movement against the British. Like her predecessors, Queen Nzinga of Angola and Yaa Asantewa of Ghana, she established a formidable resistance against a technologically superior force.
As the leader of the main group of the Windward Maroons, her military genius was unparalleled. Maroon strategies included the use of camouflage, using bush wrapped around their bodies to blend in with the environment. In addition, Asante retentions were utilized in developing communications systems based on the cadences of drums and abengs (horns), which were unintelligible to the enemy. Also, the adherence to their spiritual beliefs presumably involved and invoked supernatural forces. Bolstered by tales of their ferocity, this provided an element of psychological warfare, which struck terror in the hearts of others. Nanny, in particular, was believed to be an obeah woman who used her powers to exercise considerable control over her followers.
In addition to being a brilliant military strategist and fearless leader, Nanny played an important role psychologically by not only instilling confidence and courage in her followers but preserving loyalty by administering oaths of secrecy.
She struck terror in the hearts of the whites to the extent that news of her death was joyously received as a slave, Cuffee, was handsomely rewarded when he declared that he had killed her. This allegation was entirely false as Nanny outlived the First Maroon War, and subsequently received 500 acres of land from the British for herself and her people. | Continued
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Maroon Heritage: Archaeological, Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives, E. Kofi Agorsah, Canoe Press, 1994.
Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas, Richard Price (ed.), Anchor Books, 1973.
The Maroon Story, Bev Carey, Agouti Press, 1997.
The Maroons of Jamaica 1855-1796, Mavis C. Campbell, Africa World Press Inc., 1990.
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The Story of the Jamaican People, Philip Sherlock and Hazel Bennett, Ian Randle Publishers, 1998.
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