- Granny Nanny Come Oh: Jamaican Maroon Kromanti and Kumina Music and Other Oral Traditionsby Granny Nanny Cultural Group
The double-CD album Granny Nanny Come Oh: Jamaican Maroon Kromanti and Kumina Music and Other Oral Traditions, by the Granny Nanny Cultural Group, offers an aural excursion into the sociocultural and historical world of the Moore Town Maroons, one of several Maroon societies in Jamaica. This album remains rooted in veneration of the eponymous Maroon leader and warrior, Queen Nanny, as it explores several themes related to Maroon culture. The Moore Town Maroons are arguably one of the earliest independent polities in the Western Hemisphere, having been recognized by the British after securing their independence in 1739. The album's 31 recordings include Maroon songs, drumming, oral history, and Maroon language. There is also an accompanying 40-page booklet that features material about the history and culture of the Jamaican Maroons as well as the Granny Nanny Cultural Group.
Unsurprisingly, the recorded offerings extol the importance of Nanny to Moore Town Maroon cosmology. This is accomplished through the recognition of how she bridged the existential geographical dichotomy, arriving from Anomabu in Ghana with warriors to confront the British, in the title track, "Granny Nanny Come Oh." Nanny is also prominent in the album's second track, which invites listeners to get on Granny Nanny's train. Other selections, such as "Jing Bang Belly Come a Do'," "King Sawya Oh," and "King Jilo," delve into quotidian activities such as social responsibilities relating to childbearing and children's behavior. Additionally, through the songs "Wata Muddy," "Rio Grande Memories," "Throw Blood a River," and "Blue Maaga," the album recognizes the importance of the Rio Grande in Maroon life. The river is respected for providing food and enhancing quality of life, feared for its capacity to take lives during flooding, and revered enough to be offered blood sacrifices to calm its raging waters.
Aspects of Jamaica's political history are played out in lyrics exploring the theme of Maroon sovereignty's fierce protection against British incursion in selections such as "Maroon Deh Ya," "Warrunde," "Moore Town a Jumbie Gully," [End Page 227]and "Mind Moore Town Oh." "Warrunde," for example, describes how Maroons embedded British military aggression in their aural/musical landscape. The album also adds the Moore Town Granny Nanny cultural group's voice to the burgeoning global conversation about marijuana use. "Weed & Grabba" extols the potency and efficacy of the plant cultivated by the Maroon. Interestingly, while the album attaches marijuana to Asante and Nanny, there is no extant historical evidence to support this.
The album's curating dexterity is showcased by its oral tradition pieces that underscore the Maroon connection with West Africa. This is apparent in a story relating how Nanny's supernatural abilities provided food to fend off starvation and prolong the war with the British in "Pumpkin Hill." In the same vein, "Scatta Wood Maroons" emphasizes Maroon ingenuity in evading capture by British Forces through deceit. Three short offerings of recorded Maroon languages interspersed between the tracks clearly demonstrate a linguistic connection with Africa in what appears to be a hybrid of different African languages. These pieces carry a visible Twi/Akan component, a recurring motif in many of the selections from the album and exemplified in "Do Maria Maama." Finally, instrumental pieces showcase the complexity of Moore Town Maroon drumming and their use of their war horn, the abeng, for musical purposes.
Maroon communities in Jamaica represent perhaps the most conspicuous Ghana-derived cultures in the Western Hemisphere. Granny Nanny Come Ohunderscores this significance in the cosmology and historical consciousness of the Moore Town Maroons. For example, ascribing a revered personality to the Rio Grande is reflective of Akan cultural practices, which recognize spiritual entities that occupy rivers such as the Tano. Present as well is the West African tradition of archiving memories in songs that are passed down through generations. The album also reveals nuances in Maroon culture in...