October 19 is an important day in Jamaica... Heroes' Day. The public holiday celebrates the men and women who have made an outstanding contribution to Jamaica. The day also recognizes seven historical figures who make up Jamaica's 'National Heroes'.
Queen Nanny or Granny Nanny (c. 1686 – c. 1755), National Heroine of Jamaica, was an 18th-century leader of the Jamaican Maroons. Queen Nanny is symbolic as a fighter but most importantly as a mother… the Mother of All!
Historical documents refer to Queen Nanny as the “rebels’ old ‘obeah’ woman” but to the Maroons she was revered as a woman of science.
Queen Nanny was born into the Asante people in what is today Ghana, West Africa, and escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica.
Queen Nanny’s legacy is preserved in oral form. The Jamaican Maroons credit Nanny’s power of science in defeating the British in 1739. Nanny’s science and every one of the stories of her powers is testimony to the Maroons’ own cunning and bravado that won them their freedom. Queen Nanny was the architect of the ‘Ambush’, the guerrilla tactic of camouflage where the Maroons disguise themselves as bush and trees, which baffled and deceived the British. Queen Nanny is buried at ‘Bump Grave’ in Moore Town, Jamaica.
Facts an’ T’ings...
Queen Nanny single-handedly defeated a battalion of British soldiers by strategically placing her cauldron of boiling water (Nanny’s Pot) on the corner of a narrow pathway, forcing the soldiers to pass by one by one. When the soldiers saw that they were no fire beneath the pot, they were compelled to look inside the pot, and upon doing so, fell down the precipice and died. She spared the life of the lone survivor so that he could be witnessed to the fate that awaited them at Nanny Town.
Queen Nanny possessed the skills to catch bullets and demonstrated it on the day of the signing of the treaty. She told a British officer to order his men to fire their muskets at her. At first, the officer thought it was a ploy to renew the war. He eventually gave the order and when his men fired rounds and rounds of bullets toward Nanny, she half turned her back, and with her hands between her legs, caught every bullet.
Queen Nanny had an older sister named Sekesu. They were both captured in the Gold Coast and brought to Jamaica on board the same ship. Nanny escaped into the Cockpit Country along with her brothers, Accompong, Cudjoe, Johnny and Quao while Sekesu remained in bondage.