ON ASSIGNMENT: MAROON TOWN, PORTLAND, JAMAICA
There’s something Magical about the parish of portland. If I had to pick one other parish to travel to outside of where I live it would win from the other twelve, no contest. The assignment was visiting Moore Town, a maroon village which was once home of Nanny of the Maroons, Jamaica’s only heroine.
After hitting Port Antonio There’s about 15km or 30 minutes to go until you hit Moore Town. The residents I connected with were pleasant and willing to interact despite the usual hesitation by most amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
STOP NUMBER ONE: MAROON TOWN MEN
We encountered a group of men on the roadside at the entrance of the community. who spoke of the mindset of the Maroons, he referred to them as peaceful and easygoing. They also spoke about a native language spoken amongst maroons which sadly we had difficulty finding persons who were fluent. (see story at the Jamaica Star)
Among the group of men was one who left Moore Town to live in Kingston and ultimately found his way back to the settlement saying the quality of life there suited him better than that of Kingston and St Andrew.
A directive that the team had for the visit to the maroon settlement was to find a present-day person who is respected and possibly seen as a present-day Nanny of the Maroons.
Enter Ms Emmelyn Roberts
A healer referred to by another as a “mother lady”. Equipped with the knowledge of Ms Roberts Location we headed towards her residence but encountered an 87-year-old elder on the Moore Town main road
STOP TWO: MR RUDOLPH OBEDIAH
Mr Rudolph Obediah, a Moore Town Maroon Man, vigorous in his movement and seemingly jovial by nature. When asked about his “youthful” aura he mentioned his lifestyle and the use of vervain, a plant with medicinal qualities used by him and a number of persons throughout the community to strengthen their immune system.
He also mentioned Ms Emmelyn Roberts the healer and respected elder of the community
We’re gonna get to her I promise. We arrive at Ms Roberts house “Hi Ms Roberts” Just a second I”m on the phone she responds.
We respectfully wait and notice two women across the road and decided to have a chat.
STOP THREE: MRS JOYCE DOWNER
Ms Downer, a 77-year-old resident of the maroon town who came to Moore Town when she was six years old. Downer eventually married a Maroon Man, settled and had children one of which was standing beside her, Erica Downer who tried to have her mother share Anansi Stories with us. There were sadly no stories as she said she couldn’t remember any. She did however echo previous sentiments of the peaceful nature of the community throughout our conversation.
STOP FOUR EMMELYN ROBERTS
We head back to Ms Roberts home she invites us in, She’s an elderly woman, so extra precautions are taken, social distancing measures observed, sanitization done and of course mask on.
Ms Roberts, welcoming, rtusting and strong woman.. all the elders interacted with thus far were full of vigour, she was no different. She inquires the nature of our visit and we explain (the reporter and me) we’re doing features throughout Moore Town ahead of heroes day (October 19, 2020), seeing that this was the home of the only heroine and the town also houses the monument erected at the location of her tomb ‘BUMP GRAVE’.
On hearing the news of residents perceiving her as a modern-day Nanny she was slightly overwhelmed.
“Why would they say that, I am not Nanny”
We quickly clarified that she was likened to a Modern-Day Nanny and not being presented as Nanny.
She then spoke of her God-given gifts of healing and her sense of duty to help others in need of those gifts who are hurting or suffering. To carry out her “practice” Ms Roberts said she used nothing but her hands, olive oil, the bible and prayer. Read her story at the Jamaica Star
Throughout the discussion, we also asked how COVID-19 has impacted her and her mission to aid others to which she explained that she currently sees no one as her children are against her interacting with anyone at the risk of her own health. However, she too uses Vervain as a means of strengthening her immune system.
Following the interview with Ms Roberts, the team headed towards the Nanny Monument (which we passed and almost ended up at Nanny Falls), Visited the Mooretown Primary School and then wrapped the assignment and headed to Kingston. Portland being portland! There were stops for a photo or two where permitted.
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