Queen Nanny of the Maroons, otherwise known as Granny Nanny or Nanny of the Maroons was an Ashanti woman and the daughter of Prince Naquan, who was taken into slavery by the Spaniards from today’s Ghana of the Ashanti tribe in 1640. As oral history would have it, as there have been many origin stories and several versions of her early story as there has not been enough written down evidence.
Maroons, is a term used for escaped slaves who form their own settlements. The Spanish called these free slaves “Maroons”, a word derived from “Cimarron”, which means ‘Fierce’. Nanny is credited to freeing over 1000 slaves. Maroon in Latin means ‘Wolf’.
The maroons are claimed to be descendants of West Africans, mainly people from the Akan who were considered ferocious fighters. After being brought to Jamaica in the course of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, many Africans fled from the oppressive conditions of plantations which led to the formation of free black people in Jamaica, in the hill mountainous areas of the Island. It is believed that many Maroons were escaped slaves who ran away from their Spanish-owned plantations when the British took over the Caribbean Island of Jamaica from Spain in 1655.
During years of warfare under the British colonial rule, the British suffered significant losses in their encounters with the Windward Maroons (formerly enslaved slaves freed after the Spanish left) of Eastern Jamaica. The Maroons attributed their success against the British to the successful use of supernatural powers by Nanny. However, historians have argued that the Maroon mystery of guerrilla warfare played a significant role in their success.
According to Maroon oral history, Nanny’s success in defending her people against the colonial forces was often attributed to her mysterious supernatural powers. According to a Maroon Legend, Nanny had magical powers, and could catch bullets and then redirect them back at people who shot at her. Having failed to defeat them on the battle field, the British called for peace, signing a treat with them in April 1740. The treaty stopped the hostilities, provided for state sanctioned freedom for the Maroons, and granted 500 acres of land to Nanny and her followers. The village built on the land grant still stands and today is called Moore Town. It is also known as the New Nanny Town. Modern members of the Moore Town celebrate 20 April 1740 as a holiday.
Nanny is credited to freeing over 1000 slaves.
The government of Jamaica declared Nanny as their only female national hero in 1975. Her image was as well used on the Jamaican $500 note which is called a Nanny in Jamaican slang.
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