The people of the Cockpit Country are a reflection of a vast array of communities that immigrated to Jamaica from around the globe. It is estimated that nearly 750,000 enslaved people, primarily from the west coast of Africa, were brought to Jamaica between 1655 and 1807. Much of this population arrived from the Gold Coast, now Ghana, and Biafra, now primarily Nigeria.
After the abolition of slavery in 1838, workers were brought in from other countries as Jamaica searched for sources of income to supplement the sugar crop. German, Irish and Scottish settlers arrived as well as Asian immigrants from India and China, and eventually workers from what is now known as Lebanon.
The Cockpit Country has also been home to some of the oldest Maroon communities for more than 300 years. As descendants of escaped African slaves and native Tainos, the Maroons developed a distinctive cultural identity and continue to represent a critical component of the Cockpit Country. The term Maroon is believed to have originated from Cimarron, a Spanish word which itself was adapted from the Taino language. Initially used to refer to runaway cattle, Maroon later became a reference for runaway Taino and African slaves.
The Maroons of Jamaica not only survived the perils of captivity, enslavement and warfare but also created their own dynamic culture – a synergy of Jamaican, West African, and Rastafarian traditions. The Maroon culture fuses distinctive life philosophies with religious elements and the use of local Cockpit Country plants for medicines, healing, and arts and crafts, all in the spirit of sustainability and moderation.
The Cockpit Country is made up of several distinct communities, each of which offers a unique window onto Jamaican culture. Some of the main regions include, Accompong, Flagstaff, Windsor, Wait-A-Bit/Litchfield, and Sherwood Content. Many of these centers are located close to the Cockpit interior, while others can be reached via a 2-3 hour drive.
Born and raised in Flagstaff, Opal is an expert in Jerk Seasoning and Hot Pepper sauce preparation. She is also into pottery. Contact Opal Ferguson at 1876-361-7489