Nanny of the maroons, or "Granny Nanny", as so affectionately called, was the leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th century.
She was known by both the British settlers and the Maroons as an outstanding military leader who became, in her lifetime and thereafter, a symbol of unity and strength for her people during times of crisis.
She was seen as particularly important to them in the heated fight with the British during the First Maroon War which took place between 1720 to 1739.
Although she has been immortalized in songs and legends, certain facts about her have also been documented.
Both documents and legends refer to her as having exceptional leadership qualities.
She was small in stature but with piercing eyes.
Her influence over the Maroons was so strong, that it was seemed to be supernatural and was said to be because of her connected powers of "obeah".
She was particularly skilled in organizing the guerrilla warfare carried out by the Eastern Maroons to keep away the British troops who attempted to penetrate the mountains to overpower them.
The British were confused by her cleverness in planning the guerrilla warfare and their recollection and accounts of the fights reflects the surprise and fear which the traps set by the Maroons caused among them.
Her spirit of freedom was so great that in 1739, when Quao signed the second Treaty (the first was signed by Cudjoe for the Leeward Maroons a few months earlier) with the British, it is reported that Nanny was very angry and in disagreement with the principle of peace with the British, which she knew meant another form of subjugation.
Besides inspiring her people to ward off the troops, Nanny was also a type of "chieftainess" or wise woman of the village, who passed down legends and encouraged the continuation of customs, music and songs, that had come with the people from Africa, and which instilled in them confidence and pride.
There are many legends about Nanny among the Maroons.
Some even claim that there were several women who were leaders of the Maroons during this period of history. But all the legends and documents refer to Nanny of the First Maroon War, as the most outstanding of them all, leading her people with courage and inspiring them to struggle to maintain that spirit of freedom, and life of independence, which was their rightful inheritance.
Nanny of the Maroons was honoured with the Jamaica's highest award - The Order of National Hero.
This is why today she is referred to as The Right Excellent Nanny of The Maroons.
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