MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica April 8, 2022 - The Government of Jamaica has declared the 8th of April “Chief Takyi Day” in commemoration of the Ghanian Chief who showed extraordinary courage and bravery in leading the 1760 St Mary War in an effort to end chattel enslavement in Jamaica and liberate the country from British rule.
It is said that Takyi was born into the Fante ethnic group, also part of the Akan people, in the Gold Coast. He was a high-ranking chieftain who spoke fluent English, and admitted to selling enemies from other Akan states to be enslaved by the British.
His people lost a war with another Akan state and Chief Takyi was captured and sold into slavery under the British. He ended up being dropped off in Jamaica as a slave on the Frontier Estate in St. Mary,
While he was enslaved on the Frontier Estate, Takyi rose to the position of overseer on his plantation. It was from this position of relative autonomy that he planned his rebellion, with the aid of many other Akan rebels.
Takyi’s plan was to defeat the British and all slave masters and create Jamaica as a separate and independent black colony. The ensuing Takyi war of 1760 was one of the most significant slave rebellions in the Caribbean during the 18th century before the Haitian Revolution, which began three decades later.
Tacky’s War began on Easter Monday, April 7, 1760. He along with his rebel troops began the war by killing white masters and overseers on the Frontier and Trinity plantations. The owner of the Trinity plantation, Zachary Bayly, however, managed to escape.
Takyi's troops were joined by slaves from the Esher estate owned by William Beckford. They stormed the storeroom at Fort Haldane where they killed the storekeeper and captured and defended the town of Port Maria from British colonial forces. Tacky and his troops commandeered nearly four barrels of gunpowder and 40 firearms and then overran the Heywood Hall plantation.
In response, on April 9, 1760 Lt. Gov. Sir Henry Moore dispatched the 74th regiment, comprising 80 mounted militia from Spanish Town, the colonial capital, to the rebellion in St. Mary Parish. The militia was joined by Maroons from Moore Town, Charles Town, and Scott’s Hall.
On April 12, British troops and their Maroon allies attacked the rebels, wounding Tacky in battle. Two days later additional Maroons under British commanders engaged Tacky and his followers in the Battle of Rocky Valley.
Most of the rebels were killed. Many others fled into a cave near what is now called Tacky Falls, where it is said they committed mass suicide. Tacky and a many of his troops retreated into the woods and were pursued by the Maroons.
One British marksman, attacking with the Maroons, shot and killed Tacky and then severed his head. That head was then displayed on a pole in Spanish Town until some of Tacky’s surviving followers took it down. Many of the remaining surviving rebels were captured and executed.
The Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies, in a statement today, said "Today, April 8, has been declared “Chief Takyi Day” by the Government of Jamaica. Why? First, because of the constant lobbying by the walking advocate Blak X. Second, several sources indicate that Chief Takyi along with key plantation headmen and other Ghanaian chiefs in St Mary, including an enslaved man called “Chief Jamaica,” showed extraordinary courage and bravery in leading the 1760 St Mary War to end chattel enslavement in Jamaica and liberate the country from British rule.
The CRR statement said "This was the largest enslaved-person led war in the 18th Century British Empire. This liberation war really broke out on April 7, 1760, Easter Monday; but it intensified on April 8, by which time it not only engulfed several plantations in that parish but also spread as far away from the centre of the war as Westmoreland, where the leader was Opongo."
"The suppression was brutal and slavery stayed in place, but this brave warrior of the Fante ethnic group inspired others to say “no” to slavery as indicated by the subsequent revolutionary wars, including those from 1765 to 1831/32 in Jamaica and the Haitian Revolution, which began three decades later.
"We honour Chief Tacky and all other anti-slavery activists because, as Olaudah Equiano, said, ‘When you make people slaves, you compel them to live with you in a state of war," the CRR statement concluded.
Takyi’s story has not been told enough in Jamaica hence we fail to understand the great lengths our ancestors have gone to secure our liberation from chattel slavery.
The Ghanaian museum promotes Takyi as a Ghanaian King who led a slave rebellion in Jamaica.
According to the Ghanaian Museum website “In May 1760, Takyi and his allies killed their masters, occupied their plantations (named Frontier and Trinity), and seized the munitions stores at Fort Haldane. They took over two more plantations (Heywood Hall and Esher) that same day. By the next morning, hundreds of enslaved people joined the cause. When the growing group of rebels stopped to celebrate their success, a slave from Esher plantation fled to the closest authorities for help."
260 years ago on 7 April 1760, Tacky (Akan spelling: Takyi), Fante chief before being enslaved, started a war for freedom in Jamaica. Grew into the biggest in the British Empire during the 18th century; hastened the end of slaveryhttps://t.co/0TzTYxUB9jhttps://t.co/k4FZKUk0IG pic.twitter.com/KHIPKSgDVv— Wayne Chen (@wcchen) April 8, 2020
According to oral history, Takyi and his slaves were strengthened and protected by the Obeah spiritual leaders. As they planned their next move, an Obeahman spread a powder over the bodies of the other rebels and told them that it would make it impossible for the British to hurt them.
Notified by the enslaved man from Esher, dozens of mounted militia confronted the rebels. They were accompanied by maroon contingents who were (because of the treaties with Britain) treaty-bound to aid in quelling the rebellion.
The Obeahman boasted that he and the rebels were untouchable. The British responded by seizing the Obeahman, executing him in front of the rebels and hanging his body by his own mask in site of the rebel camp. This brutality convinced most of the rebels to return to their plantations. But Takyi and two dozen other rebels renewed their attacks.
During a session of guerilla fighting in the forest, a maroon marksman called Davy killed Takyi and brought his head to the British as evidence of his death. Takyi’s role was finished but several other bands of rebels renewed the effort in wake of Takyi’s death.
It took the British two months to subdue Takyi’s Rebellion fully. And the consequences were grave. Sixty whites and 400 enslaved blacks were killed. Takyi’s allies were captured and either burned alive or hung in cages at the Kingston parade where they remained until they died of dehydration or starvation.”
The Centre for Reparation Research in honouring "Chief Takyi Day" said "we honour Chief Tackyi and all other anti-slavery activists because, as Olaudah Equiano, said, ‘When you make people slaves, you compel them to live with you in a state of war."