The similarities between the Maroons of Jamaica and the Akan people of Ghana

Present-day Ghana, formerly called the Gold Coast, had many of its Akan people shipped to the Caribbean and America’s during the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. This resulted in millions of Africans having their culture and identity stripped from them during the years of enslavement that proceeded. 

While enslaved, some Africans would ran away to the mountainous regions and settle there. Thus, the genesis of the Maroons of Jamaica and beyond. Although the Maroons consisted of enslaved Africans from various regions from the motherland, it appears and that West Africans had the greatest influence on the culture of the Maroons and present day Jamaica. And today, these similarities can still be seen between the Akans of Ghana and Maroons of Jamaica. 

The Maroons are a set of people that even though they had to adapt and assimilate, they have been over the years been able to retain to the roots of their African culture. Some of the similarities are major, while others are more minor. Find out what similarities these are between the Maroons and Akans which have stood the test of time. 

i. The Akan flag and the Jamaican flag are similar

The flag is one of the different symbols of unity in most countries. Going deep into a country's flag helps a person understand its meaning and why the country in question chose that flag. Thus, a flag is not just a combination of colors put together in a piece of fabric but a country's unification symbol. That's why knowing that the Akan flag and the Jamaican flags are similar makes an interested African elated. Both flags have three colors in common; black, gold, and green, even though the arrangement of the colors vary. The black in both flags symbolize the native people; gold symbolizes rich land's productivity, and green symbolizes the greenery, the landscape, and the scenery of the countries.

ii. African Day names in Jamaica

The other striking similarity between the Akan people of Ghana and the Jamaican Maroons is the naming system that follows day names. In the case of the Akan’s of Ghana- a person is named according to the day of which he or she was born. Even though Africans were stripped of their names during slavery, the Maroons were still able to retain certain aspects of the naming system. See the table below on the day naming system for both communities.  

Day of the week

The Akan People

The Maroons

Sunday

Kwesi

Quashie

Quasheba

Monday

Kwadwo/Kojo

Cudjoe/Kujo

Juba

Tuesday

Kwabena

Bene

Cobena

Wednesday

Kweku

Quaco

Cooba

Thursday

Kwau

Quaw

Aba

Friday

Kofi

Cuffe

Fiba

Saturday

Kwame

Quamin

Mimba

 

iii. Jamaican patois and the root words that come from Akan and Igbo languages

The other major similarity between the Akan people of Ghana and the Maroons of Jamaica is how the Jamaican patois and its root words are almost the same in Akan and Igbo words. Although the slaves who ran away to the mountains and settled there were not entirely Akan and were rather mixed, the present-day Jamaican patois and roots words are similar to native Akan and Igbo words. For instance, the Jamaican patois ‘Nyam' is a word from native Akan meaning 'to eat' or 'to blend .' The root form in Akan is 'Nyam.’ See the table below for some more examples.

 

 

Jamaican Patois

Language of Origin

Root Form

Meaning of the Root Form

Nyam

Akan

Nyam

Eat or Blend

Akara

Akan, Yoruba, Igbo

àkàrà

Food

Attoo

Igbo

átú

chewing stick

Chink, chinch

Igbo

ch́nch̀

Bedbug

Unu

Igbo

únù

you (plural)

Dingki

Kongo

 

funeral ceremony

Dundus

Kongo

Ndundu

white person, albino, European

Djumbi

Kongo

 

Ghost, an evil spirit

 

Other minor similarities

The three similarities discussed above are the major lines of connections between the Akan and the Maroons. This section focuses on the similarities between the Akan of Ghana and the Coromantins. This is a sub-group of the stratified Akan community in Ghana and later found themselves in Jamaica due to their military prowess and discipline the colonists valued, thereby taking them to the Caribbean lands where they are a community today.

i. Sharing of a deity

In the ancient Akan community, the forty sub-tribes did not speak a common language. However, they shared a common political language and a single Supreme God, Nyame. Nyame controlled the universe and cosmology. Today, the Coromantins believe in Yankipong, a Jamaican deity common among the Jamaican Maroons. Although they recognize Yankipong, Jamaicans don’t worship him, unlike the Akan people who worship Nyame. Besides Nyame, the Akan people recognized Asase Yaa, the wife to Nyame and a great deity. The Kromantis and Maroons also recognize the Asase Yaa.

ii. Sharing folk stories

The other similarity between the Kromantis of Jamaica and the Akan of West is sharing of folk stories, and folk story characterizes. For instance, the Akan people are known for Anansi, a famous folk story that features a spider character that surmounts his opponents using wits and cunning traits. In the Caribbean lands, we find Anamsi Drew, the Caribbean version of Anamsi assimilated due to the transatlantic trade in slaves.

iii. John Canoe Celebrations

For several years, an Ahanta (one of the Akan sub-tribes) man from Axim years actively served in the war while siding with the Germans. At some point, he rebelled against the Germans. He took over Fort Fredericksburg, controlling the area from 1708 and 1724 when his downfall came. However, the cause of the downfall is unknown. When the slave Akans in the Caribbean lands learned of his victory, they celebrated him abroad, giving birth to the John Canoe celebrations since the Europeans had named the Akan man John Canoe. Up to date, many Caribbean lands commemorate John Canoe during the Junkanoo celebrations.

Conclusion

There have been many divisions that have been placed between Africans from the continent and diaspora. However, at the heart of the matter, there are more similarities than differences when you scratch past the surface including the day naming system which originated in Africa but was adapted by the people when they arrived in the Caribbean.

Africans on the continent and in the diaspora have always been known for their strong sense of culture and norms. Whether you are from the continent or the diaspora- reconnect and reclaim your African name with the Maroon mug collection

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