PM Holness hails Accompong Maroons

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andrew-holness-photo-3.jpgST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) -- Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has hailed the Accompong Town Maroons in St Elizabeth, noting that their togetherness is a shining example of peace for the rest of Jamaica.

According to the prime minister, the Maroons have preserved the culture of their ancestors, using it as a guide to live in peace and harmony with each other, a standard that the rest of the country should strive to emulate.

Holness was speaking at the Accompong Maroons' 281st celebration of the signing of the peace treaty with the British and to commemorate the birthday of their past leader, Cudjoe, yesterday, in the Maroon village.

"Within this town, you may have about two to three thousand people, but I looked at the murder statistics and I don't see one murder in this town or in this area. In fact, the crime rate here is very low and it is not just today or last year or the year before. This has been the case from ever since, and there is a reason for that. You hold on to a heritage [because] you know that your ancestors, your forefathers fought for your freedom," the prime minister said.

The festival marks the victory of the Maroons in their first war against the British in 1738, in which they fought for their freedom, led by Cudjoe. This year's staging was held under the theme 'Advancing to the Future while Standing True to our Culture'.

The prime minister underscored that the unique and distinct Maroon culture has kept them apart from what he said is the "chaos and violence that may exist in other parts of the country".

"Your forefathers fought and earned the respect of their enemies... to the point where your tenacity, your relentless pursuit of your freedom led to the signing of a peace treaty 281 years ago. It means something to each and every one of you who claim the Maroon heritage. So, you are not about to allow that heritage to be disrespected by violence, killing each other. You have used that heritage to live together under a particular system of governance which demonstrates respect for your chief, respect for your elders and respect for the culture," Holness said.

In the meantime, the prime minister gave a commitment to the Maroons that the government will improve the infrastructure of Accompong Town to make it easier for visitors to travel to the historic village to experience the rich culture of the people.

"People travel when it is easier and seamless, so if you fix the road, more people will come, and if we support you with a little museum, so that the artefacts that you have can be properly displayed, more people will come," Holness said.

He further informed that plans are afoot to improve the water supply system in the community. The day's festivities included performances by Maroon cultural and folk groups and the Beeston Spring Mento Band.