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The Yardee Connection

26 August 2016 at 05:53 | 1969 views

Commentary

By Amadu Massally, USA.

With regard to Jamaica, Sierra Leone has two maybe three stories to tell. It is known slaves were taken from Sierra Leone to Jamaica. In fact, I know of a story in which one Chief’s son was sold into slavery in Jamaica, but was later returned upon his demand.

We also know of the Jamaican Maroons, who were “tricked”; sent to Nova Scotia and in 1800 to Sierra Leone. These are the Trelawny Town Maroons up in Flagstaff. Some of them returned to Jamaica from Sierra Leone in 1841. And in 1864 some of those returnees to Jamaica from 1841 also returned to Sierra Leone in a crisscross of immigration and emigration.

Recently we were there celebrating Treaty Day in Flagstaff, Jamaica. I had met Michael Grizzle in July of 2015 (photo) when I visited Jamaica for the first time ever through a guy named Cutie, who had been to Sierra Leone.

Michael and I talked and shared my vision of a Sierra Leonean visit. He responded with Treaty Day in March of 2016. We delivered after members of government were invited by the Trelawny Town Maroons. It was great to see the government and people of Sierra Leone reconnecting with their kinfolk after about 170 years… on their turf. That was an awesome experience. And more importantly, we can now do business with one another.

I also visited the Charles Town Maroons recently in June when they had their 8th Annual maroon Festival. I will talk about that another time

But there is another connection to Jamaica post-Emancipation. That is well documented in history books. And especially the one I have handy that I am about to cite from. Alas, Alas, Kongo is a mine for information with regard to indentured African migration into the West Indies and particularly Jamaica.

Let me just say from Sierra Leone, thousands left for Jamaica between 1841 and 1861. But here is the caution; NOT ALL were Sierra Leoneans. History tells us that after the abolishing the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and 1808 (UK and US, respectively), Sierra Leone became a riposte or depot for Africans onboard slave ships caught or recaptured by British Naval Ships that patrolled the Atlantic Ocean. Such recaptives were taken to one of two places: St. Helena Island or Freetown.

So mixed in that crowd that went to Jamaica (as well as Trinidad, as we will see tomorrow or Friday) are other Africans; primarily Nigerians from the Yoruba and Igbo tribes. Planters in Jamaica were able to engage delegates or recruiters from the settlements of Bathurst (Egba, Yoruba), Charlotte (Egba, Yoruba), Kissy (Igbo), Funkia/Goderich (Igbo), Wilberforce (Kalabari, E. Nigeria), Freetown (Mende), and Goderich (Mandinka). That illustrates the specific town or ‘city village’ and their original inhabitants. There were also a variety of ‘Central Africans’ who were brought in as recaptives.

So Jamaica is another place where you will find links to Sierra Leone. But a majority of the slave labor to Jamaica is believed to have come from Ghana. We need to urge Ghanaians to link up and continue nourishing those historical connections like we know they have started. Just like we are doing for Sierra Leone. “It’s time for Africa” to connect with her broader diaspora, or vice versa!

This is at the point where you enter Flagstaff! It used to be called Trelawny and some people still refer to it as just that; affectionately.

A delegation of Maroons helped us pick up the delegation from Sierra Leone, led by the Ag. Minister of Tourism and Culture, Madam Kadi Sesay, Chairperson of the National Monuments and Relics Commission, Isatu Smith the General Manager of the National Tourist Board, Mr. Yassin Kargbo, and a Senior member of the Maroon Church in Sierra Leone Mr. Barber-Richards.

Two descendants from Maroons in Sierra Leone, Mr. Victor Barber-Richards and Roland Luke, aka Todd.

The two folks who left Jamaica in 2011 to visit Sierra Leone. Nicole and Kutie! They were instrumental in linking up with us. And it is fitting to give a shout out to David Ingleman who was responsible for putting all of this in motion based on research he did as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica. For example, it was David who brought Nicole and Kutie to SL where I met them and promised we would return their favour. And we did.

Editor’s Note: Here is a video clip on the Maroons:

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