Warrior King, Fantan Mojah, Lutan Fyah, Shuga and Dwayne Stephenson are among the artists set to headline the Maroon Fest 2024 concert in Accompong, St. Elizabeth on Saturday, January 6.
The traditional celebration marks freedoms wrested by Chief Cudjoe and his soldiers in the 1738 peace treaty inked with the British 285 years ago and will be held for two days (January 5 and 6), with the artists performing at the stage show on day two.
Accompong Maroon Chief Richard Currie says he is anticipating positive results from the concert, part proceeds of which will be put towards restoring the Accompong Health Centre.
The Munro College old boy told The Star tabloid that the concert “has been in the making for some time but it was more about utilising the opportunity where we have foot traffic in the community to address issues of nature concerning to us and seek the assistance from those who are here.”
“It’s about the need for access to proper healthcare and health facilities. We’re about 45 minutes away from any emergency or crisis centre and that doesn’t suit us. So one of my missions is to install a state-of-the-art facility that can handle certain traumas and injuries. The event won’t do the entire thing but it will certainly get the mission going and, hopefully, others would see the pertinence and come on aboard,” he told the publication.
“Most of who are performing will just be giving their support to the cause,” Currie added.
“In a statement on Instagram, Currie also noted that during the upcoming festival, Maroons will “make their voices and energies felt from Accompong to all four corners of the world as we march, sing, chant, dance and pay respect to our ancestors who live deep within us still to this day”.
For his part, the concert’s promoter Dameon Gayle, told The Star that the concert featured were handpicked because their messages and musical impact are aligned with the event’s vision. He also pointed out that most of the artistes are “very supportive” of the concept and even offered their personal equipment and labour.
“Over the years these are artistes that I’ve worked with closely. I know they would’ve supported me, even if I didn’t have any money. It’s fitting that these are the artistes who actually represent the culture. They got the vibes we are aiming for because we’re trying to get back to the roots and re-energise the community while reviving the heritage, and doing it in Accompong is such a special place,” he said.
According to Currie, the event will also have an educational component featuring presentations from dignitaries such as Pan-Africanist Dr Umar Johnson, and Professor Verene Shepherd.
As for the concert turnout, Currie said that he expected it to be massive, and noted that it is projected to become a major part of the celebrations.
“I am very optimistic about it because people will come to Accompong no matter what. The goal is to make this a two to three-day event where people can come and camp here because we have a tent village. So it was just a matter of timing and having the right people around,” he explained.
Accompong Town is a landlocked expanse in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. It was named in honour of its founder Accompong, brother of Quao, Cuffy, Cudjoe, and Nanny, the leader and founder of Nanny Town, who were well trained soldiers from the Ashanti area of West Africa.
Together, these Maroons had the British militia and slave masters in Jamaica their mercy in a guerilla warfare, for centuries until 1738, when, after being beaten into submission, the British soldiers yielded and made their way to the hills of Accompong where the Maroons had settled, to beg their chief Colonel Cudjoe for peace.
Hostilities were formally ended via a treaty between the two groups in 1739, signed under British Governor Edward Trelawny, which granted Cudjoe’s Maroons 1500 acres of land between their strongholds of Cudjoe’s Town (Trelawny Town) and Accompong in the Cockpit Country.