Monday, November 30, 2009

Maroon Chieftess - Gloria Simms

From the Jamaica Gleaner:
Maroon chieftess Gloria Simms has started a group to give voice to female Maroons as well as preserve and transmit their culture in Jamaica.

Simms, who is the founder and director of Maroon Indigenous Women's Circle, is from the Trelawny Town Maroons in St James.

Meetings started in 2007, but the group was formalised last year, and Simms said it could be the group's influence that resulted in the election of the first woman deputy colonel, in Accompong, St Elizabeth this year.

She said members hail from five Maroon villages in Jamaica, and numbered approximately 100 women, including those who work or reside outside the villages. Speaking confidently, she noted that those who have left the village are important because they have valuable views as well.

The chieftess is concerned that Jamaican culture is fast eroding, and is on a quest to ensure that future generations do not forget the rich history.

"When we look and see what is going on, we know that it is acculturation of our people taking on different cultures that were not designed for them, so sometimes it is hard for them to fit into other cultures and be themselves," she asserted.

Simms believes that the retention of the Maroon culture is also a problem.

"The culture that the Maroons preserve is sometimes based in the village, and the wider society is not being introduced many times to it and feel like they are an outsider to the culture."

She added: "Even as Maroon women sitting in the village, you don't know where your son who you have taught all the Maroon cultures is going to put his likeness in when he comes out as a youngster."

She explained that this could bring outside cultures into the village.

Simms said Maroon women still carry the sovereign integrity of what ancient African women used to be and the role they played in Africa as queen mothers.

"We need to take that stand and take that to our women," she said.

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