Queen Nanny of the Windward Maroons (c. 1680—?) was the spiritual, cultural, and military head of the Maroons, who were a group of escaped slaves in Jamaica. She was born around 1680 as a member of the Ashanti tribe on Africa’s Gold Coast (now Ghana). She was captured by European settlers and taken to Jamaica, where she was sold to a plantation owner near Port Royal. Conditions for plantation slaves were harsh and unbearable, and Nanny and a few other slaves escaped, hiding in the Blue Mountains area near Port Royal. With the other slaves, whom she called her brothers, she organized Maroon communities around Jamaica, freeing slaves and welcoming them to much happier homes.
In 1720 Nanny settled an area in the Blue Mountains called Nanny Town, which had 500 acres, and overlooked Stony River by a 900 ft ridge. This would become an extremely strategic location during British invasions. They designated sentries to stand watch for potential threats, stationing them overlooking the river. Nanny and her people invaded plantations, freed slaves, and acquired weapons and food. The new slaves were allowed into their communities where they raised animals, hunted, and grew crops. They sometimes did business with other towns in Jamaica, but not always.
Many believed that Nanny’s excellent leadership was derived from Obeah, an African-like religion that dealt with magic and mysticism. Nanny also had a very strong knowledge of herbs and traditional medicine, which lent her more status in the community.