Thursday, April 22, 2021

Akan Words And Other African Cultural Retentions In Jamaica's Maroon Communities

vagabrothers, March 26, 2017

We dive deeper into Jamaica's Blue Mountains and get welcomed into the Scotts Hall Maroon Community. Join us for an UNBELIEVABLE day in the Blue Mountains as we explore Maroon culture!
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
I'm showcasing this YouTube video mostly because of its cinematography, its content, and  the comments in its discussion thread. However, I'd like to note that a number of Jamaican commenters disagreed with this video's title, and wrote that Maroons aren't forgotten people in Jamaica.

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcase a YouTube video of the Scotts Hall Maroon community in Jamaica.

This post includes a definition of the term "cultural retentions", definitions of the word "Akan", and an excerpt from the Wikipedia page about Jamaica's Maroons.

This pancocojams post also includes some comments from that video's discussion thread that refer to Jamaica's Maroon communities' retention of Akan words from Ghana and The Ivory Coast's (west Africa) Akan language as well as some other African retentions.     

The content of this post is provided for linguistic, historical, and socio-cultural information.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the Scotts Hall Maroon community and other Maroon communities in Jamaica and elsewhere. Thanks to the vagabrothers for the information included in this video and the high quality cinematography of this video. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series about Maroons in Jamaica and in other nations of the Caribbean and South America.

The definition of "African cultural retention" that is used in this post is "the retention of African names and other terms, and the retentions of African cultural practices and aesthetics in the African Diaspora". 

"A Kwa language spoken in parts of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire whose two main varieties are Fante and Twi. (

Of the Akan or their language or culture. (

A member of a people of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, including the Fante and the Twi. (

I added the parts of speech in parenthesis. 
Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire are West African nations. The English translation of "Côte d'Ivoire" is "The Ivory Coast". 

Click for information about Akan people. That page notes that "Akan" is an ethnic group which is found in present day Ghana and The Ivory Coast. There are a number of sub-groups of Akan people. Two sub-groups of Akan people are "Ashanti"* and "Fante".
In the Akan language, the Ashanti are called "Asante" (ah SAHN tee" . The name for this West African ethnic group is  spelled the same but way but is pronounced differently and has a different meaning from the KiSwahili (East and Central African) language word that means "thank you".

Click for a YouTube vlog about how the word "Twi" is pronounced.

Here are a few comments from that video's discussion thread about how the word "Twi" is pronouned:
1. ebert beeman, 2019
" @Elroy Rigsby-Leday  Twi as in "she"?"

2. Elroy Rigsby-Leday, 2019
"@ebert beeman  more like ch - ee or ch - we.  The ch is meant to sound strong like chew and the ee is streched out. I find success when I say chwe it's not technically correct as the w sound should disappear because tw is supposed to translate into ch, but everyone says it sounds right."

3. Learn Twi with Efia BAE, 2019
"As the response before mine explains, no, it doesn't sound like the word "tree" or "she". But more like "tchwi" with a soft "t". It doesn't even sound like the sound an English native speaker would make when saying "chew" or "chewing gum" but it's the closest sound I could think of that expresses part of the sound made in pronouncing "Twi". I hope repeating the video several time and with practice it will get easier :). Good luck."

"Jamaican Maroons descend from maroons, Africans who escaped from slavery on the Colony of Jamaica and established free communities in the mountainous interior, primarily in the eastern parishes. Escaped Africans who were enslaved during Spanish rule over Jamaica (1493–1656) may have been the first to develop such refugee communities.

The English, who invaded the island in 1655, expanded the importation of slaves to support their extensive development of sugar-cane plantations. Africans in Jamaica continually fought and revolted, with many who escaped becoming maroons. 



The word "maroon" is derived via French from the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning "wild" or "untamed". This word usually referred to runaways, castaways, or the shipwrecked; those marooned probably would never return. The origin of the Spanish word cimarrón is unknown.[1]

When the English invaded Jamaica in 1655, most Spanish colonists fled. Many of their slaves escaped and, together with free blacks and mulattoes, former slaves, and some native Taíno,[2][3][4] coalesced into a number of ethnically diverse groups in the Jamaican interior.[5]"...


Numbers are added for referencing purposes only.

1. konkonbishl, 2017
"These guys are Akans of Ghana abeng is horn in twi. Their ancestors may have been taken from kormanteng and Abanzi in the central region of Ghana. To be specific they are Fantis. Very stubborn people. The Akans lived under strict military structures. Read about the Akans of Ghana and you would know it. An Akan would never live under any oppressor they would rebel."

2. MissBabyloved, 2017
"My heart is filled with joy seeing my Akan people transformed as maroons but they didn't loose all the Twi language of the Akans. "Nyankonpo"= the almighty God, "Aben"= ivory horn specifically in Ghana 🇬🇭. 😅 would really like to visit them. ❤️❤️❤️🙏🏽🇬🇭"

3. Mahcyah S., 2017
"Awwwhs👣me video! L😍ve it! The history,culture,the tour of the interior of the Maroons territory!


 Am from the Parish of Portland. They have another Maroon🇯🇲🔆 community call Acompong! Courageous,amazing people! Thanxs for the tour guys, it really rocks! 🛤Am from there and never been personally went there but read and watch a lot of videos on the Maroons! So well done, am visiting very soon!

PS  breathtaking views from your environmental friendly  lodge? How refreshing that must be?😊😊😊"

4Friedrich, 2017
..."Well in current day Jamaican patoi language. There are many Akans Ghanaian language words fused into it. There also still exist Ghanaian culture, naming and languages maintained by descendants of escaped slaves sent to not only Jamaica but Guyana, Suriman, St Lucia, Aruba and even further to state of Lousiana in USA. I would love to invite you guys to Ghana to explore with me someday, whenever you are able to do so. "

Nana K.N. Owusu, 2018
"Ghana and Jamaica must establish an intercultural program.  The Jamaicans are Akans with names like Nanny(Nana), Cudjoe, Quao, Tacky etc.

Cola nuts are called Bese in both places, the staple cornmeal is called Dokunu, and the Akye tree is called Akee."

6. Laugh Jungle, 2018


 both Ghanaian Twi Language

Bless Up Africa"

7. Koku, 2021
"Akan, it  could be Fanti"

8. Yvonne Asare, 2018
"Truly Ghanaians. This fishing method plus the small rivers brings my childhood memories back. So innocence and loved the rural growing up in eastern region on the akuapem mountains."

9. Str88 Money Movement, 2018
"Most are akans but many came from Kongo too"

10. carsty, 2018
"@Str88 Money Movement  erm well from wat i was taught our ancestors  (slaves) were from West Africa...i thought Congo/Kongo was Central Africa or is it a different Country I dont know of?"

11. Str88 Money Movement, 2018
" @carsty   well you have to overstand the kingdom of Kongo was situaded in west central Afraka stretching from northern Angola, western Kongo Kinshasa aka DRC and Kongo Brazzaville aka ROC.

When people hear Kongo they think of the modern nation in central Afraka which was colonised by Belgium because its the biggest country in sub Sahara Afraka and have been through the worse genocide.

So when I said Kongo was talking about the kingdom of Kongo and not the current nations.

Lastly we have to remember Jamaica was not always controlled by the English but the Spanish too, these European nations brought enslaved Afrakans from the gold coast all the way down to west central Afraka.

12. Str88 Money Movement, 2018
"@carsty  Based on the phoenix ship records, enslaved Africans mostly came from the Akan people (Twi [Ashanti Akyem, etc.], Fante and Bono) followed by Igbo, Yoruba, Kongo, Fon people and Ibibio people. Akan (then called Coromantee) culture was the dominant African culture in Jamaica"

13. Str88 Money Movement, 2018
"@carsty  "It was pure Congo people who was living in here, straight from Africa, after slavery was up, real black African. My great-great-grandfather come from Africa. We all are from the African tribe," declared the 72-year-old grandfather, who has spent most of his life in Congo Town, Wakefield, Trelawny.

In an email response to a query about Guy's claim, Professor Verene Shepherd, social historian and lecturer in history at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, says: "There are several Bongo towns and Congo towns in Jamaica. That speaks to the presence of Jamaicans descended from people from the Congo/Angola area of Africa. Read Maureen Warner Lewis' book, Central Africa in the Caribbean. Also remember ... (the) victims of the last ship, Zong? Some of those on the Zong were from Angola/Congo area."

Congo Town, Wakefield, was indeed a big slave settlement and, after slavery, it was a vibrant place; even in the 1940s and '50s when Guy was growing up, decades after the abolition. And as he talked about his life and time in Congo Town, Wakefield, Trelawny, my mind strayed. I looked right through him, and was transported to a time when life was hard, but sacred, and so very different from what it is today. The greying man beside me was a link between now and then, when the hypnotic sounds of the Tambo drums in Congo Town echoed from the hills surrounding Wakefield.

There was a yard near where Guy now lives in Congo Town, where people from all over the parish would meet to play the drums and dance to their message-laden beats, carrying on what their forebears had brought from Africa. The drums were loud and could be heard miles away, and few could resist their calling, to go dance and sing, and be merry.

"We used to have the Congo people dem who come in. We have Congo people who come from up Duansvale, we have Congo people from Maroon Town, and same place here in Wakefield. We used to have the dance over there so, over there so used to be for my grandfather. That was actually the camp for Congo people," he recalled."

14. Str88 Money Movement, 2018
" @carsty  there's a lot more information available if you need it.

But my point is we brothers regardless. I'm from Kongo and I know my people were part of the maroons and the revolts in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbeans even in mainland Brazil, Mexico and of course the USA.

G-d* willing one day I will visit the maroons in Jamaica and it will be emotional for me to say the least!

Peace love and light to you and yours."
*This is the way this word is spelled in this comment.

15. Superblack, 2018
"The Maroons are a mixture of West African ethnicities.... Not just Ashanti, you will definitely find a big Igbo element as well as Yoruba

16. "SUNSHINE GIRL, 2019
"Incoginto One you are so right about this even the Igbo culture is so much in Jamaica but because of Nanny the Akan culture dominates. Emprezz Golding mother traces her roots back to the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. There a lot of things associated with the Nigerians. Calabar high name after a port in Nigeria and yam festival and jonkunu from there too. So they need to educate kids about their other tribes"

17. Ofori Amanfo, 2019
"Jamaicans are real asantes cos the sound of the abeng is used for communication even now when u visit the village and go the farm, the farmers  use it to communicate like telling each other when they are leaving their farms when is getting late"

18. DREAMER, 2019
"OMG 11:29 did I hear a word Nyankinpong,  it makes me cry.

Nyankopon is an akan or let me say Ashanti word meaning Almighty God.

The  Maroons are the direct descendants of the Asante ( Ashanti) people, who were taken away from modern day Ghana.

Maximum respect and love from Asante land."

19. Ruthy Ruth, 2019
"Was just about to state the same, Ghanaians say Nyakopong. Some Jamaicans also share some Ghanaian stories like ‘Anase the Spider’ and have Ghanaian names like Kofi and Kwame. This shows how the Maroons really tried to preserve as much of their West African culture as the could. 🇬🇭🇯🇲"

20. Atlas24gh, 2019
"They are AKan  but they are more Fanti than Ashanti They were mostly from Abanzi and Koromantee sectin f the central region"

21. Enoch Adjei, 2019
"They are not Asante because you hear a few akan words.They are from  all over West Africa.My 
research point to Fulani as Majority.Who can be found everywhere in West Africa even Northern Ghana.

22. kofi Sachey, 2019
 @Atlas24gh  Now that hit home! Because the rhythm from those drums are not typically Ashanti. And the dance moves further prove my point. Now I understand."

23. kofi Sachey, 2019
@Max A  The maroons were mostly Ghanaians, no doubt about that. However it's also obvious that the cultural influences aren't just Akan. It seems to me other tribes from other nations joined the Akan maroons on their rebellious flight into the blue mountains. Very fascinating piece of history."

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