Hero Nanny Poem, by Louise Bennett
Hero Nanny Peom
By Louise Bennett
We have one Jamaican proverb what say “If breeze no blow, yuh no know say dot fowl got skin.”
An lawks, missis, from Authority go announce Nanny as National Hero, a dont get fi fine out ou much Jamaica smaddy still shame a dem slavery heritage! Mmmm.
De gal Muches, she gi out, “Cho! Whe meck dem haffi go dig out dat-deh ole slave duppy fi tun National Hero?”
Aunty Roachy eye–dem glisten wid bexation, an she wheel roun pon Muches an holler, “Not duppy Hero, a Warrior Oman! Siddung, Muches, meck me tell yuh bout her.
Grandy Nanny couldn stomach slavery. Mmm. She use to hate de very soun a de wud ‘slave’, an she teck a oath an vow fi use Nanny Town which part she live as a refuge an backative fi all runaway slave who coulda fine dem way dere, mmm.
“But it wasn easy fi fine yuh way dere. So Nanny use to sen har warrior bredda dem by night fi rescue de slave dem from de plantation-dem.
Yes, tief weh de slave from de plantations by night, give dem safe passage pass Nanny pos into Nanny Town.
“Yuh can jus guess how de slave owner-dem did vex bout dat! Yes, Puppa! Yuh know omuch time dem sen soldiers an militia fi attack Nanny Town people dem? Mmmm.
“Nanny woulda meck her people-dem dress up demself eena leaf an disguise up damself like tree an bush an hide demself eena rock an stump.
“An meanwhile de attackin soldier-dem a march up a hill, dem would see de whole hillside a rush dung pon dem, tree an bush a gallop dung lacka horse pon dem!
“Yuh can guess how de soldier-dem frighten so till dem all dash weh dem! Ammunition an pick up dem foot eena dem han an run like dem pepper dem.
History book say ‘The soldiers were baffled and retreat in alarm.’ Lawks, what a joke!”
Muches holler, “Nanny pop dem! Gwann talk, Miss Roachy. Gwaan talk.”
Aunty Roachy she, “Grandy Nanny couldn talk much English, but she coulda meck drum talk an she coulda meck horn talk.
She always wear her abeng horn tie pon a string roun her wais, an she woulda stan up a de head a de precipice up a Nanny Town and fling back her head an lif up her horn an blow any message she want, to har Maroon people-dem.
“All like de day when she feel de danger dat di way into Nanny Town was not secret no longer an de soldier-dem was marchin in, she soun de abeng message to her followers, an tell dem fi pull foot cross de hills, keep to de mountain, put plenty mountains between dem an dis mountain, an fine a new hidin place, an den she start fi set fire to de town an soun de abeng again, an she, “Stay free! Stay free!”
Well, same time as Aunty Roachy stop fi ketch breath, one bwoy name Cubbitch come een an gi out, “What a gwaan? What a gwaan?” De gal Muches say, Miss Roachy a tell we bout Nanny.”
Hear de outa-order bwoy, Nanny goat?” An him start holler, “Baaa! Baaa!”
Aunty Roachy wheel roun pon him an say not Nanny goat, Cubbitch. Not goat.
Woman! A strong fearless Jamaican warrior oman dat wouldn buckle under slavery.
Your ancestor, Cubbitch, dat yuh shoulda proud a, an stop holler ‘baaa, baaa’ an holler ‘tallawah’!”
Cubbitch say, “Pop story gimme. Miss Roachy.”
Aunty Roachy, say, “My granmodder tell me say dat fi her granmodder tell har say dat Nanny Town and Compong Nanny an moore Tung Nanny was de selfsame Nanny. Mmmm.
“An when history book say dat Cudjoe was de mose darin Maroon leader of de time, everybody did know say dat it was him sister Nanny who wasa gi de orders fi swoop dung pon de plantation-dem a night time an set fire to de cane piece dem an leggo de slaves-dem an bring dem fi strengthen de Maroon forces-dem, a oh!
“But Nanny wouldn have no part or lot wid Peace Treaty signin. An when Cudjoe was determine fi sign Peace Treaty, Compong Nanny teck weh herself from Compong Town an go back to Portland.
For Nanny say as long as dere was even one slave pon plantation no black smaddy was free.”
Hear Cubbitch: “A so Anty Roachy?”
Aunty Roachy say, “A so! But black people never got nobody fi write dung fi-dem hero deserving deeds eena book, so from generation dem write it dung eena dem rememberance.
An my granmodder tell me say fi-her granmodder tell har say dat a fihar granmodder did tell har say, a so!”
Ay yi yie!
Source: An Anthology of Creative Literary Works for the Speech Competition