Preamble: This is number 9 in the series after last week’s Apache royal. Ten seems like a nice number to round it off at, right?
She’s Royal #9:
Her Story: Actually, let me begin with where my story intersects with hers. I was a student at the University of the West Indies, the Jamaica campus, in the early to mid-1990s. My time there coincided with a visit from the Queen of England (Elizabeth herself, of many films and TV shows) – much fuss was made and counterpoint to that, indelibly branded on my mind, is the black graffiti on the campus’ nice front wall declaring ‘Nanny a fi we Queen’. It was a rejection of the colonizer queen and a defiant embrace of the home grown queen of the maroons who was to then the only female Jamaican national hero. Originally from Ghana, Nanny, like millions of Africans, was brought to the Caribbean in chains in the 17th century. She escaped, as a teen, with one of her brothers in to the Blue Mountains, to an area which would become known as Nanny Town. From this base she conducted raids, freeing other enslaved Africans – almost 1000. The British plotted to quell the maroons but Nanny was a fierce and shrewd adversary. The first maroon war ran from 1720 to 1739, her cleverly conceived guerilla style of warfare keeping the British from penetrating the mountains. And in those mountains, the escaped, with Nanny as chieftain, built a society which adhered to customs brought from Africa. Small and wiry, she is remembered for her leadership and military skills, and her influence which was so strong it was feared to be supernatural. Nanny was firmly opposed to treaties with the British. She was assassinated in 1733 and Nanny Town burned to the ground in 1734. Cudjoe, another of her brothers and leader of the Leeward Maroons, later entered into a treaty that, while it won the maroons independence from British rule, made them complicit in the continuing enslavement of other Africans, returning future runaways to discourage rebellion. But as my opening story asserts, the spirit of Nanny, of the Eastern or Windward maroons, endures.
Possible casting: In a perfect world, I’d say Grace Jones circa her Conan and James Bond days, and she could still kick ass today…but given Nanny’s age, we might have to cast younger. And it should be someone with at least Jamaican roots (because when Americans try to do a Caribbean accent, oy). So…open casting call?
Next up: I have a few possibles to choose from and if next week is a wrap I have to choose one with some impact, yes?…stay tuned.