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Queen Nanny (c. 1686 – c. 1760)

Updated: Jan 17

Queen Nanny of the Maroons, although largely ignored in historical references, remains one of the most important figures in Maroon history. In 1720 Nanny was leader of Nanny Town, a maroon settlement in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. Nanny, was an exceptional military leader, and her warriors fought the British from 1720 to 1739. Nanny was also known to be a great obeah woman and worked her spiritual skills to protect her warriors.

Queen Nanny is believed to have been of royal African descent belonging to the Ashanti tribe of Ghana where she was born around 1680. There is no written historical account, and oral history has varying versions of how Nanny came to Jamaica from Ghana. In some versions she came as a free woman and in others she arrived via the Transatlantic Slave Trade and later escaped with her 4 brothers into the mountains of Jamaica. All of whom became Maroon leaders.

Maroons are formerly enslaved Africans and their descendants who gained their freedom by fleeing enslavement and running to the cover of the remote mountains or jungles. Nanny founded Nanny Town, a maroon community in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica which flourished because it was tucked away in the . mountains, hidden from the British colonizers.

Nanny lead numerous raids to free the enslaved held on nearby plantations and she is credited with having assisted in the escape of at least 1,000 during her life in Jamaica. The British soon began to set up hunting parties to track down the maroons who were raiding their settlements.

The Maroon Wars of Jamaica continued on until a truce was declared in 1739. Nanny's brother Cudjoe, is credited with leading a treaty that would ultimately end the wars. Unfortunetly, Nanny never got to see the end of this war as she was killed in 1733 during battle and Nanny Town was eventually destroyed by the British in 1734.

Queen Nanny and the Windward Maroons are an inspirational symbol of resistance and triumph over slavery and colonization. The goverment of Jamaica recognized Nanny's contributions to it's history and in 1983 Nanny was proclaimed a National Hero, a title only held by 7 Jamaicans - Nanny being the only woman to hold this title! Nanny's portrait also appears on the $500 Jamaican note, the largest banknote in circulation in Jamaica.

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