Letter From the Editor
Maroonage has long been a conscious and compulsory cultural resistance journey that some African people in the New World have elected to avoid the cruelty and servitude of slavery. In Jamaica and throughout the New World, there were, and continue to be maroon communities, some small, some large and others of varying sizes, enclaves of people who create communities to avoid engagement with the government or others they consider members of “Babylon,” but mainly to preserve their African culture and have autonomy.
So, it is only appropriate that as we celebrate 60 years of Independence and the publication of Sylvia Wynter’s The Hills of Hebron, we reread and relook at her depiction and presentation of what the future might hold for the dispossessed. Are they still exiled from themselves and society? Are they still seeking redemption and benevolence from a God far removed and who bears no resemblance to themselves? Is there a Hebron – a place of safety, abundance, and refugee for these progeny of enslavers bereft of land and education?
As we look at Jamaica’s development, an 89 per cent literacy rate, a mortality rate of 7.6 per 1000 people, and a murder rate of 49.4 per 100,000, we can infer that not much has changed for those who occupy the lower strata of society. The COVID-19 pandemic further testifies to the vast disparities evident in society. Yet that is only one side of the story, for within these gloomy figures is also glaring evidence of a swelling creative outpouring in all areas of the cultural and performing arts, entrepreneurial resourcefulness in street vendors, and thriving communities, with more attention towards food security and environmental integrity.
For those 20 years and younger The Hills of Hebron, might read like a foreign space or far removed from the present reality. However, there are still enough such spaces in various parts of Jamaican society, and the search for self and meaning is still a quest many are undergoing. Sylvia Wynter’s important text provides a map to travel from the past to the unknown future.
I want to thank Professor Carole Boyce-Davies for suggesting this partnership, and thank Cornell University for supporting this issue.