The face of Jamaica’s $500 bill, is a remarkable woman. She remains an important figure in the history of the Maroons, despite the system’s attempt at manipulating how her story be presented.
It is believed that she was born around 1686 and is a descendent of the Ashanti group from Ghana. She travelled to Jamaica with a few of her people, who fled from the chains of slavery that nearly swallowed them. They escaped into the Blue Mountains, as others tried to warm up to her presence in Jamaica, Queen Nanny created a safe space in the Blue Mountains where she trained slaves who were freed, how to fight and outsmart the British. Queen Nanny was an expert in guerrilla warfare and her focus on camouflage tactics carried out by her people assisted in keeping the British out, preventing them from invading the mountains they dwelled in.
The Queen led a community of previously enslaved Africans in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. It was under her leadership where the Windward Maroons fought a guerrilla war against the British, it was coined the First Maroon War and it lasted for years.
According to M, Azeverdo Queen Nanny was known by both her own people and the British as an incredible political & military leader. She never engaged in the fighting herself, though she killed many British soldiers. Queen Nanny is credited for teaching her soldiers, 3000 by a count how to use a cow horn for long distance communication by blowing to it. (this is one of the earliest forms of communication)
In another account from a junior British officer, he described her as “having a girdle around her waist, with nine different knives hanging in sheaths to it” this reminds me of the goddess of the winds of transformation and the storms of change! Queen Nanny gives off the energy of the warrior goddess, Oya Iyansa. Queen Nanny may have been married to a and named Adou, they had no children which defied the gender stereotypes of the that time. She remains a personification of black resistance against white oppression!
The Maroons took their spirituality very seriously and it was incorporated into every aspect of their lives, be it child rearing or military strategies. If you pay attention to the cultures slaves preserved whilst they were unlawfully taken from their lands, their spirituality is what kept them going. They never compromised it. Every slave rebellion involved African spiritual practices. Queen Nanny was an Obeah practitioner who was able to instil confidence in those who followed. Obeah is a spiritual practice which evolved from Africa, during slavery such practices were of great significance to the black population. This was quickly outlawed by the oppressor who imposed their western ways which demonised our africanness.
A well known legend of the Queen is, during 1737 at the height of the maroon resistance against the British. Queen Nanny and her people were near starvation and she was on the brink of surrender, when she heard voices from her ancestors telling her not to give up. She then woke up to pumpkin seeds in her pocket, which she planted on the hillside. Within a week the seeds grew into large plants laden with pumpkins that provided food for her community which was hunger stricken. There’s another one about her ability to catch bullets with her hands, this was a highly developed art in some parts of Africa.
Queen Nanny played a magnificent role in the preservation of African culture & knowledge. This is also why the British despised her, she was never a bloodthirsty queen nor were the Maroons crazy people! The weird descriptions made by some British historians only exposes your disgust in African spirituality ridiculing our cultures!