Art

Akwantu – The Journey

A Fascinating, insular culture, the Jamaican Maroons were the first freedom fighters.

Story by Lora Wiley - lora@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks Video by Raoul Beltrame
Clifton ‘Packiman’ Rowe and Roy share a laugh with their late Uncle, Lewis Rowe Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Clifton ‘Packiman’ Rowe and Roy share a laugh with their late Uncle, Lewis Rowe
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

”What these people were able to achieve was ten thousand more than Spartacus was able to achieve.” – Roy T. Anderson

A Fascinating, insular culture, the Jamaican Maroons were the first freedom fighters. African slaves from different cultures who, against all odds, bonded together and freed themselves from the tyranny of one of the ugliest periods in human history, becoming independent.

The sacred “Kindah” tree in Accompong, Jamaica. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

The sacred “Kindah” tree in Accompong, Jamaica.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

”My experience in the Slave River is hard even to describe. I went to the edge of the water, dipped my feet in and closed my eyes and could hear almost hear them talking to me. That’s no lie.” – Roy T. Anderson

In this powerful documentary, Roy T. Anderson, a Maroon descendent, invites us along on the journey of his ancestors. From New Jersey to Jamaica to Ghana and back, Roy’s determination to pick up his family’s thread of Maroon history transported him back to where slavery began in Africa. He first hand traced the agonizing path his ancestors walked in their forced voyage to the new world.

Filming near the Peace Cave in Accompong Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Filming near the Peace Cave in Accompong
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

”When they look at the Maroons’s story, my ancestors, up against the mightiest of superpowers, limited resources and what they were able to achieve is absolutely nothing short of amazing.” – Roy T. Anderson

Along the way, Roy interviews his extended family, Maroon elders, scholars and an array of intriguing people, from medicine men to colonels. He discovers the full meaning of being descended from a powerful and important line of some of the most resilient, determined and sometimes controversial humans who ever walked this planet. With his exclusive access to their community, Roy uncovers each layer of Maroon history and his own. The viewer is drawn in by the emotion and commitment this elusive group of people still feel for their ex-slave ancestors who were able to defeat the British and establish their own territory in 1739.

Maroon descendants. Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Maroon descendants.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Akwantu- The journey is an inspiring, educational look at what remains of a fascinating society, their rituals and their history. It will inspire people to trace their ancestry. Additionally, the film reminded this author, however obscene, the problem of human slavery still exists today.

You can learn here: http://www.akwantuthemovie.com/index.html

Along a busy street in Kumasi, capital of the Asante Region in Ghana Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Along a busy street in Kumasi, capital of the Asante Region in Ghana
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

 Roy’s maternal grandfather Alfred Rowe, twisting tobacco  Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Roy’s maternal grandfather Alfred Rowe, twisting tobacco
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Roy on the Gulf of Guinea; Cape Coast castle in the background Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Roy on the Gulf of Guinea; Cape Coast castle in the background
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Maroon couple from Accompong – ‘Brother’ Jack Rowe and ‘Miss Daisy’ Isolyn Rowe Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Maroon couple from Accompong – ‘Brother’ Jack Rowe and ‘Miss Daisy’ Isolyn Rowe
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

A quiet moment of reflection at Slave River in Ghana’s Central Region. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

A quiet moment of reflection at Slave River in Ghana’s Central Region.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Queen Nanny’s final resting place – Bump Grave -  in Moore Town, Jamaica Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Queen Nanny’s final resting place – Bump Grave – in Moore Town, Jamaica
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

In the dark dungeons at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

In the dark dungeons at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

One of the male slave dungeons at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

One of the male slave dungeons at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

Roy interviews his mom in Toronto. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

Roy interviews his mom in Toronto.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

A Maroon working her garden. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

A Maroon working her garden.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

The Abeng – national maroon symbol in Jamaica. Courtesy of Roy Anderson

The Abeng – national maroon symbol in Jamaica.
Courtesy of MACPRI/Action 4 Reel Flimworks

7 Responses to “Akwantu – The Journey”

  1. kay says:

    Amazing movie. A must see.

  2. Adisa S.Oji says:

    Proud to be associated with the producers of this great work. The Ancestors be praised.

  3. Wilbeert J. Oliver says:

    This is the true history of a bold and fearless people that were determined to shake off the shackles of a horrible bondage and by the grace of God they have succeeded. The Maroons, Marcus Garvey and those early Jamaicans who immigrated to England in the fifties makes one proud to be a Jamaican. Like Akwantu, I hope to see the life story of Marcus Garvey on the big screen very soon.

  4. Debbie Mitchell says:

    My parents are from Jamaica and when I told my mom about the documentary she surprised me with the news that we have Maroons in our family, on my grandfather’s side. Thank you Roy Anderson for bringing a new conversation to our family’s table.
    Well done!

  5. GDS says:

    Sounds like this is an amazing documentary… I will look for screenings on the west coast. Thanks for sharing this terrific information.

  6. Dwight Gordon says:

    I sure found the damn thing to be enlightening and inspiring.

  7. Roger N. Buckley says:

    Roy Anderson is to be praised for his superb documentary on the Maroons of Jamaica. It is a remarkable film notable for the distinctive qualities of Anderson as a film maker, and for the historical accuracy, emotional depth, and quiet strength of the story. This is a story that needed to be told. It propels into the foreground of world history the role of Jamaica’s Maroons in the cause of human liberty. One is now hungry for Anderson’s next film project.

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