Kojo Day in Accompong, St. Elizabeth (January 6th)

 

Traditional celebratory rites held in Accompong Town on January 6 (Kojo Day) centre around the Kindah Tree where drumming, dancing, singing and the pouring of libations are done to invoke and appease ancestral spirits; an important part of Maroon cultural tradition. These activities are led by a group of Maroon elders who commence dances and songs and who marshal observers. Intermittent spirit possession can be observed and on occasions, members of the drumming band have to break to release those in myal from spirit possession.

While this is taking place, food for the ancestors is prepared adjacent to the Kindah Tree. The menu consists of pork (unsalted) which is boiled and placed in containers to be carried to the peace cave as an offering to the “others” (ancestors). Interestingly, there is a belief that this pork, when consumed on this particular day, will provide good luck for all of those who partake of it for the rest of the entire year. As you may imagine, there is always a crush for the meal which has necessitated that drastic crowd control mechanisms be put in place.

The food is carried off by a procession led with singing and drumming to the cave where it is offered to the ancestors. It is stated that only Maroons, specifically those from Accompong Town can make this sacred trek on that day.

Following these ceremonies, a general procession, led by the Colonel and elders, some of whom are decked out in camouflage, move through the main arterial road in the Town. Interestingly, the procession stops at the main four way crossing as the procession asks ancestors to bless the community in the coming year and to rid it of evil spirits. Following this a civic ceremony commences, usually at the Kojo monument at the centre of the Town.

The drumming in Accompong is normally led by the Gumbeh – a square, four legged drum that is native to the community and which, along with accompanying drums and the abeng, are used to call the Maroons and their ancestral spirits to a sacred space of remembrance. The singing, done using words retained from the Kromanti/Asanti languages, invokes the ancestral spirits to be a part of the sacred space and invokes myal. The feeding of the ancestors is part of the practice of ancestral veneration and demonstrates the community’s continued belief of their reliance on those before them to oversee, intervene, assist and direct present conditions in this physical plane of existence

 

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