General News Tue, 20 May 2003

Kwahu People Will Visit Jamaica for Quao Day Celebrations

A large delegation of 30 Ghanaians from the mountainous Kwahu range in the Ashanti region of Ghana, will visit Jamaica for the first time this year to celebrate Quao Day, June 23, with the windward maroons led by the Charles Town maroon community.

This was announced in a news release by Frank (Buck) Lumsden, a well known Jamaican painter and Anthony (Maroon) Irving, managing director of Anything From Jamaica, Ltd., the two principal organizers representing the Charles Town maroon community in Portland.

Quao Day is celebrated each year in Jamaica on June 23, in remembrance of the signing of the peace treaty on June 23, 1739 by the British colonialist government and the windward maroons led by the legendary national hero of Jamaica Nanny and her lover the famed fighter and military strategist Quao (Kwahu). Legend has it that both Nanny and Quao were possessed with supernatural powers and could appear and disappear at will in the mountainous and cavernous regions of Portland where they lived and fought first the Spanish and later the British troops sent to capture and return to slavery the runaway slaves who became known as the maroons.

The delegation of Kwahu and Ashanti people that will be visiting Jamaica is led by Michael Eussman, president and Brenda Bismarck, vice president of the Kwahuman Association, a New York based Ghanaian organization that has over 1,000 members living in the New York metropolitan area.

The invitation for them to visit Jamaica was extended last year by Anything From Jamaica, Ltd. chairman, Julian “Jingles” Reynolds, whose New York based company Edeler Foods does business with a Ghanaian food trading company in New York, Gold Coast Trading, owned by Daniel and Josephine Ahenkora. Daniel is from the Ashanti tribe and his wife Josephine is a Kwahu, a sub-group of the Ashanti but of equal size. Ackee, which is the main ingredient of Jamaica’s national dish, is originally from Ghana. However, Ghanaians did not eat the ackee until recently due to the interaction with the Jamaican communities both in America and those living in Ghana.

The visiting Ghanaians will be bringing gifts from the motherland to present to the Jamaican maroons, and will be presented with gifts by the Jamaican maroons. It is believed that the Jamaican maroon leader Quao and possibly Nanny came from the Kwahu region of Ghana, and the African Studies Department of the Institute of Jamaica is to begin research into this. In Ghana the Kwahu People are known for their hard work, industriousness, aggressiveness and business acumen.

Mr. Reynolds, the organizer of the Ghanaian visit said that he expects closer cultural, trade and economic ties to evolve from this “reunion of kindred spirits.” Arrangements are being made for the Kwahu delegation led by their president, Michael Essuman and vice president, Brenda Bismarck, to meet with government officials including Governor General Sir Howard Cooke, Education and Culture Minister the Honorable Maxine Henry-Wilson, Tourism and Industry Minister the Honorable Assamba Aloun, Member of Parliament for Western Portland and Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, the Honorable Errol Ennis, and Opposition senator and historian, Anthony Johnson.

The Quao Day celebration this year will begin at sundown on Friday, June 20 and culminate at midnight on Monday, June 23, Quao Day. The festivities will involve drumming, dancing, art and craft, culinary exhibitions (featuring Jamaica culinary queen Ma Mable from the Charles Town maroons), story telling, symposiums on maroon culture and use of herbs, sports, nature tours, and the display of rituals and artifacts from the maroon communities of Charles Town, Moore Town, and Scotts Hall and the smaller maroon communities in Portland, St. Mary, St. Catherine and St. Thomas. The Saturday night will feature a live concert with invited performers Michael Rose former lead singer of Black Uhuru, Abijah, Sister Carol, Carl Dawkins, the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, and the L’cadco Dance Company.

Mr. Lumsden said that they plan to make this an annual event and to have it become a major heritage tourism attraction, and on the Jamaica Tourist Board calendar of events each year. Sponsors this year are Anything From Jamaica, Air Jamaica, Jamaica Tourist Board, J.Wray & Nephew, Edeler Foods, Healthee Endeavors, and MekYah Pure Jamaican Spring Water. For packaged tour and other information contact in New York, Edeler Holding or Healthee Endeavors at 718-653-4140, and in Jamaica 876-968-2431

Source: Frank Lumsden/Jamaica