Dread & Alive is a comic book and reggae music series that meshes cultural facts and fiction. The mixed-media series is created and written by Nicholas Da Silva aka ZOOLOOK. Dread & Alive is inspired by the Maroons of Jamaica, who resisted against enslavement by the British; and their ancestors, the Akan and Asante (Ashanti) People of present-day Ghana.
Dread & Alive tells the tale of two Maroon brothers who ruled in the Cockpit Country of Jamaica years after their ancestors fought the colonial British to a standstill to secure their freedom in the First Maroon War. Born free in one of the communal settlements, Cudjoe and Quaco were direct descendants of slaves purchased from the Akan region of West Africa, presently known as Ghana.
Over the years, the two brothers had opposing ideas about their enemy who saw the Jamaican Maroons not only as a constant threat to their government but also as a symbol of hope for all slaves still in captivity. They continually fought over whether their enemy should be destroyed or not.
Cudjoe™, the wise and benevolent Myalman of the Maroons, wanted to honor the peace treaty signed between their ancestors and the colonial British by living in genuine peace. For Quaco, the militant Obeahman, his ancestor’s victory over their oppressors, and the terms of the peace treaties weren’t enough for the terrible atrocities his people suffered. He strongly felt that the enemy should answer for all their crimes.
To protect their people and their sacred, communal land, Cudjoe and Quaco called on the support of the Gods and the Spirits of their ancestors, who in turn, gifted the brothers with the knowledge of their ancestral magic; Myal (good magic) and Obeah (malignant magic). The brothers also relied on the abosom, the lower deities or spirits.
Each brother acquired a sacred amulet (asuman) that shielded them from harm and protected them against death. They also performed a Blood Oath, a pact of secrecy between the two brothers that involved consuming a mysterious concoction from a calabash cup; 100-proof rum mixed with their blood along with grave dirt taken from the graves of their diasporic ancestors.
During the slave era, the Jamaican Maroons relied on the spirits of their ancestors for protection against their oppressors. Myal and Obeah represented cultural resistance for the Maroons against the beliefs of their oppressors who feared the supernatural powers of the African Obeahmen (Sorcerer) and Myalmen (Wizard/Healer/Seer). Labeled ‘Maroon’ (wild runaway slaves) by their captors, the Jamaican Maroons practiced Myal and Obeah to survive their affliction. Health conditions during the slave era were abysmal. Myalmen, Obeahmen, and Obeahwomen were called upon to help the physically and mentally ill regain their health.
The quarrel between the two brothers would ultimately reach a climactic point with the start of the Second Maroon War (1795), an eight-month conflict between the Trelawny Maroons and the Colonial British. Cudjoe’s inaction to join in the war prompted Quaco to take up the cause and join the fight. Quaco would pay the ultimate price for his act of betrayal against his brother and the village council.
A fight ensued between the two brothers with Cudjoe being the victor and a humiliated Quaco, stripped of his amulet and left horribly disfigured by Cudjoe’s magic. Exiled, Quaco was forced to take refuge inside Windsor Cave. The bitter sting of defeat at the hands of Cudjoe didn’t sit well with Quaco.
Quaco made a pact with the Sasabonsam, the Ashanti Devil. The chief of demons granted Quaco its powers of evil magic. In return, Quaco became a servant of Sasabonsam who renamed the Obeahman, Shadowcatcher, thus abandoning his Akan name.
For the next 200 years, a continuing battle between good and evil raged over the Cockpit Country.
Cudjoe’s gift of second sight would reveal a prophecy to the Myalman. The revelation would be a messianic prophecy about a child having the power of both the Myalman and Obeahman who would play the role of warrior and savior in leading mankind from Babylon to Zion, the ultimate triumph of good over evil. His name… Drew McIntosh.