Queen Nanny, or Queen Nanny of the Maroons was an 18th century leader of the Jamaican Maroons. She was born into the Akan people in 1686 in the country we call Ghana, West Africa.
In Jamaica, she successfully led a society of former African slaves called the Windward Maroons, who were all descendants from the Akan people. They were also called Koromantee (ferocious fighters). They were soon joined by other runaway slaves in subsequent revolts that took place on the island. In the 1650s, when Spain was ruling, the enslaved Africans married each other in Jamaica.
In 1665, The English captured Jamaica from the Spanish which led to many more slaves being freed. Once freed, they too went into the hills to join the Windward Maroons. By the end of 17th century, most slaves that had escaped joined the maroons. And by the early 18th Century, all of the Maroon towns were now headed by Nanny. There continued to be revolts, they fought the British from their villages, in Portland, Jamaica. Famously In 1720, on numerous occasions the British unsuccessfully tried to capture Nanny town. Most of the revolts in Jamaica were led by the Maroons which helped to free most of the slaves until they started signing peace treaties in 1739 and 1740.
Queen Nanny was very successful, over a period of 30 years she set more than 1000 slaves free and helped them with settlement in the Maroon community. The treaty provided freedom for the Maroons, and Nanny was granted 500 acres of land for her society. During the years of wars and battles, the British suffered great losses in their encounters with the Windward Maroons in Jamaica. The Maroons attributed all their success against the British to the successful use of the supernatural powers that Nanny was said to have possessed. The Maroons were better armed and had superior knowledge of the area, along with Nanny’s great leadership skills. They were also better at camouflages which helped them not to show their presence to their enemies when they came around.
In 1781, Nanny and the Maroons signed a separate treaty which led them to be separate. That same year the town was rebuilt and was now 1000 acres in size. Part of the new agreement was that they were not to accept new runaway slaves but to capture them and sell them back to their owners. They were also expected to fight with the British in cash. There was an attack from other countries.
The village that was built on the land till stands and today was called Moore Town or the New Nanny Town. The society grew crops and reared animals. They bartered and traded with each other both in food and weapons. The new members of the Moore Town celebrate the 20th of April 1740 as a holiday. New Nanny town was renamed Moore Town in 1760 after Sir Henry Moore during the Tacky’s war which the Maroons helped to calm down.
By the time Nanny had died, Moore Town was being led by an English commander called Charles Swigle. Nanny’s remains were buried at the “Bump Grave” in Moore Town till today. Nanny is celebrated every October on the Jamaican National Heroes Day and Nanny’s Monument is located in Moore Town.
ln 1975, the government of Jamaica declared Nanny as their only female national hero whose success was celebrated as a leader a military tactician and a very good strategist. Her image is also on the Jamaican $500 note is also called a Nanny in Jamaican slang