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Meet Queen Nanny, One Of African Women Who Fought For Freedom In Jamaica!!

 

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Queen Nanny, or as she is also known, Nanny of the Maroons, is Jamaica’s only recognised National (s)Hero, and she is perhaps most visible on the country’s $500 note. She lived in Jamaica in the early 18th century, and was a member of a community of resistors, the Windward/Eastern Maroons, who had escaped the brutality of enslavement on British owned sugarcane plantations.

At the height of Empire, while women from the British aristocracy enjoyed the sweetness that had been produced through slave labour, a small, African-Jamaican woman was leading her people in bitter guerrilla warfare against the ‘redcoats’. She was in a fight for her people’s lives, and the fight was not abstract.

In escaping slavery, Maroons were a major threat to the island’s colonial power structures. Capture would result in severe punishment, and almost certain death. This was the world in which Queen Nanny lived.

Jamaican oral histories describe Queen Nanny as a woman who used a range of intellectual and physical means to stave off, and attack the enemy. She is reputed to have been an expert military strategist, causing much confusion amongst the ‘redcoats’, who were often surprised when the trees came alive and they found themselves under attack from her warriors. Much of the success of the Windward Maroons during the First Maroon War has been attributed to her leadership.

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Queen Nanny is also said to have had mystical abilities that strengthened her power. However, some caution against these reports. Written historical records do not offer a great deal of information about Queen Nanny, but we do know that the British hated her, and it is believed that some accounts of her supernatural powers were deliberately designed to be derogatory.

In reality, history is always presented from someone’s point of view, and in many ways the source of Queen Nanny’s power is not our primary concern. That she existed, struggled, resisted, led, organised, survived and defeated her oppressors time and time again makes her iconic. That she continues to be recognised – in Jamaica’s memory, and beyond – is critical.

It is said that Queen Nanny was not only a warrior, she was also a wise woman who encouraged her community to remember those customs and traditions that had travelled across the Atlantic in the bellies of slave ships.

 

 

 

 

Jamaica 500 dollars bill. | Jamaica, Jamaican dollar, African history

She was recognized as a national hero of Jamaica in 1977 due to her heroic resistance. Her face is even on the 500 dollar note of the Jamaicans.

 

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Written by PH

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