The Jamaican Accompong Maroon community is confronted with developments and intrusions of mainstream Jamaican and Western society that may have contributed to transformations in traditional Maroon rituals, environment and culture. Such transformations could result in the loss of not only traditional Maroon rituals and sociocultural bonds with their surroundings that are closely linked with the early Maroons, but the undermining of Maroon society, culture, economy, identity, and treaty land.
This dissertation, described as a site-based qualitative ethnographic research, examined the impact of outside influences on the traditional rituals and everyday practices of the Jamaican Accompong Maroons. Field research was conducted in the Accompong community to comprehend their rituals and everyday practices and the extent of the impact of intrusions and outside influences on these practices. The study also examined whether the present-day educational system in Accompong is affecting Maroon rituals and everyday cultural practices.
The Jamaican Maroons are descendants of Africans brought to the New World as slaves through transatlantic slave trading who resisted slavery, fled to the inhospitable mountain wilderness of the island, established their own community and way of life and fought a guerilla war with the English in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1739, the English, unable to defeat the Maroons, signed treaties with the two major polities, in the eastern and western mountains of the island.
The data was analyzed to see if traditional Maroon rituals and culture have been disrupted and or modified, and if so, in what forms these rituals manifest themselves in the contemporary Jamaican context. The research findings showed that contemporary Accompong Maroons have embraced development and social changes in the community, but there still exists a strong support for Maroon tradition in spite of the strong influences coming from the mainland.
The findings also revealed that although there is an erosion of a minimal number of everyday cultural practices, this has not diminished the Maroons belief system and there is no significant and meaningful fundamental change in the nature of their ideology or in the Maroons interpretation of their past. Rituals have remained an integral part of the community and have sustained the Maroon society because the base is strong and the people remain strong because rituals give them hope to face social challenges.
The analysis also showed the strength of tradition and heritage and that the Maroons have met the pressures of intrusions by maintaining these rituals on which the traditional world of spirits and the belief in the power of the ancestors rested. The Maroons have infused aspects of informal education with formal education, passing on cultural elements of Maroon heritage in the daily lessons at school.
The findings of this study emphasized the Maroons need of preserving, respecting and protecting the continuity of their identity, cultural heritage traditions, treaty land and sacred ancestral landscapes of the Cockpit Country, so that social changes already underway in Accompong Town as a result of economic development and other intrusions, will not escalate to destroy, undermine or weaken the social controls on which Maroon community integration and social cohesion have rested.