An evening with JANUKA part 3 – From emancipation to independence 1 of 5


The Will to Survive – Part 3

Emancipation to Independence

Saturday 15th September 2018

18:00hrs. – 22:30 hrs.

St. Laurence Church Community Centre

37 Bromley Road, SE6 2TS.


Through the mediums of games, storytelling, proverbs, images, art, rituals, folk songs, music and dance, we celebrate our ancestors’ determination to: reclaim their humanity; reaffirm their ethical values and moral principles of life; reconstruct their family structures; and build cohesive communities, during the 124 years preceding Jamaican Independence in 1962.

Reconnect with your ‘positive’ past and look at the future

This event was well attended by our community and a resounding success. It was the 3rd Part of a sequel of planned educational events, due to popular demand.

The Will to Survive Part 3, focussed on the period between Emancipation from Slavery in 1938 and Jamaica’s Independence in 1962, a timespan on 124 years.

The aim was to present a synopsis of the social, moral and political issues affecting the lives of Jamaicans during the 124 years of British rule, leading up to Independence in 1962.

A literature review was undertaken to ensure information would be as accurate as possible. Informal discussions were with family, friends and the wider public to ascertain their recollections and personal experiences of this period was crucial. 7 Themes emerged to provide the foundation of our programme. These were:

Theme 1: Reclaiming our Identity
Theme 2: Restructuring our Work Life
Theme 3: Restructuring our Family Life
Theme 4: Re-claiming our Rights and Dignity
Theme 5: Our Spirituality Revived
Theme 6: Unity, Solidarity and Pride
Theme 7: The Cultural Challenge

Summaries of some important historical and socio-political events supporting the Themes are presented in five Tables below.

Table 1: The post emancipation years in Jamaica
Table 2: Positive drivers towards independence
Table 3: The significance of independence
Table 4: The significance of Anancy Stories
Table 5: The significance of Proverbs


  • The 2 societies that existed in Jamaica (the haves and the have- nots)
  • The rampant racial and colour bar
  • The discriminatory governmental policies that : – enabled the upper middle classes to discourage industrialization and manufacturing; endorsed an unfair systems of taxation on the poor; denied educational opportunities to the lower class and black people; created a type of caste system that kept black people at the bottom of the social pyramid.
Jamaican people were not united in their mental attitude about who they were or where they came from.
Jamaica divided by race, colour, class and political power.
Jamaicans had a negative concept of Africa – believed to be the dark Continent.
Dominant European power-base maintained differences between themselves and freed Africans
1911 – 1921- 1944:
Human and plant diseases, natural disasters (4 hurricanes) and droughts resulted in agricultural decline; economic depression; high unemployment; heavy loss of life and suffering especially on the rural poor and increased urbanization to escape from plantation life.
Increased immigration to Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Costa Rico and United States, to find employment in response to poverty.
1st World War (1914) and 2nd World War (1911 -1921):
Depletion of human resources from the island as many went to fight in the Wars.
Low price of sugar resulted in limited jobs opportunities abroad, many Jamaican returned home from Europe and USA. Returnees were concerned about:

    • The 2 societies that existed in Jamaica (the haves and the have- nots)
    • The rampant racial and colour bar
    • The discriminatory governmental policies that : – enabled the upper middle classes to discourage industrialization and manufacturing; endorsed an unfair systems of taxation on the poor; denied educational opportunities to the lower class and black people; created a type of caste system that kept black people at the bottom of the social pyramid.


Increase Exports/Trade

  1. Industrial – bauxite, copper, limestone;
  2. Agricultural- banana, sugarcane, spices, tobacco, coconut products, Blue mountain coffee, castor oil,
    rum, pimento, ginger, citrus
1945 -1960 – Increased economic growth
But gap between the general mass of people and new entrepreneurs widened. The haves getting richer and the have – nots getting poorer.
Abundance of food and fruits
ORIGINS: Arawak Indians, Spanish, Portuguese Jews, French, Africans (Ashanti, Fanti, Yoruba, Ibo people) , Europeans (English, Irish, German) , Indians, Chinese, Arabs/ Middle East/Syrians.
Increase awareness of the narrow scope of education
Despite the increased in basic, primary, secondary, technical and university education.
Restrictive British colonial education policy
Hindering the development of folk-language from becoming a unifying force.
Increase recognition of Jamaican culture in literature
1920s- 30s – Claude Mc Kay and Una Marson – the first to create a Jamaican literature drawing inspiration from African – Jamaican historical experience.
Increase recognition of Jamaican culture in the Arts
Louise Bennett – folklorist, comedienne and writer, used the Jamaican dialect on stage and in print. Helped
it to gain acceptance at all levels of society.
Development of the National Gallery of Jamaica
Presenting uplifting portraits of Jamaican people
1927-35: Increase awareness of need for racial and cultural affirmation
Initiated by Marcus Garvey – socio-political activist, supported by Robert Love- a Rastafarian, set African Jamaicans the task of reclaiming their identity and their African heritage. Garvey insisted on self-discovery, self-liberation and self-discipline. He upheld the view that Black people of every class should have the opportunity to develop their intellectual ability to the full.
1930s- 40s: Changing role of Women
In the post-emancipation period, 80% of women were gainfully occupied in agriculture. Women were crowned farm queens because of their knowledge of agriculture. Their numbers steadily declined and by 1943 only 47% were agriculturists as more began to work in domestic and commercial occupations.
1920s -30s: Emergence of Women leaders
They set about putting an end to marginalization of women in Jamaican society by promoting investment in womanhood with its proper meaning and dignity. Women emerged as advocates for social accountability.
Building Family units
Population and promiscuity increased.
Increased community spirit and support.
Farmers cultivated together, exchange of day labour, share their produce.
Protests against working conditions, poor wages and inequality
1938 -1944: Riots at FROME sugar estate – a critical turning point in cultural and political uprising
1865: Morant Bay uprising – Led by Paul Bogle – protest for Liberty, Justice and Human Rights.
Rejection of British Crown and Colonial dependence
Increase Migration /Immigration to seek employment
Development of the Cottage Industry
Mainly driven by women, creatively transformed raw materials into products for internal and external markets.
1936: Specific Funding for Development of Rural Communities from the Jamaican Welfare Ltd.
founded by Samuel Zemurray – to enable people to make the best use of opportunities that existed or that
they can create for betterment.
1940s: Global funding to provide Social and Economic Assistance to Developing Countries
e.g. International Monetary Fund (IMF), UNESCO, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) (1945); International Labour Organisation (ILO) (1946); International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRO)
1942 –1945: British Government Colonial Development Fund
10 – 20 million pounds granted
1944: Britain granted Self- government and Partial Independence
The Jamaican constitution was reformed, signalling the end of colonial policy of economic exploitation.
1944: Introduction of Universal adult suffrage by British Government
– Everyone at the age of 21 years can register to vote
Increase in religious rigour
Proliferation of Churches/Christianity (African, mixed, European religions)
1930’s 50’s & 60’s: Increasing recognition of Rastafari as a religious and ideological movement
The Rastafari movement, originating in Jamaica, began as a “cult of outcasts” who felt derided and persecuted.
Rasta identified themselves as “exiles” “captives” in their own “Babylon” and believed redemption could only be achieved through repatriation to Africa.
Haile Selassie perceived as the Messiah of African redemption, the black reincarnated Christ, the redeemer. His title “King of Kings and Lion of Judah” puts him in the line of descent from King Solomon.
Rastas believe that Marcus Garvey is the great prophet.
Rastas draw their inspiration from The Old Testament – The sixth and seventh books of Moses. The Bible is interpreted literally and provides a continuous source of guidance for daily living and intellectual discussions.
The use Ganja is seen as a means of communicating with God or gaining insight or wisdom.
Prominent names in the early Rasta movement include Leonard Howell, Robert Hinds, Joseph Hibbert, Henry Dunkley, and Claudius Henry.
1950s – 60s: Increase recognition of Jamaican music Nationally and Internationally
Ska was the music of the poor and dispossessed, expressed especially in the melancholy of the horns. Popularized by big bands such as Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires, was something that the Jamaicans could proudly claim as “Ours”. Ska music coincided with Jamaican Independence. Edward Seaga -Minister of Culture, contributed to both its recognition and its appropriation by officialdom.
Development of a two Political Party System
1934: Alexander Bustamante and AGS Coombs formed the Jamaican Workers and Tradesmen Union because workers needed representation.
1938: Norman Manley launched the People’s National Party and called on all Jamaicans to unify, to feel more and more that Jamaica, as a place, is their home and their destiny
1942: Alexander Bustamante launched the Jamaica Labour Party and called on all African Jamaicans to expect a better life in a country where they are in the majority, but from whose society they have been excluded.
1958: Partial Independence
Jamaica became an Independent country in all internal affairs. Defence and International affairs were reserved for the Queen of England. Full Independence was delayed by the colonial education system, instilling a lack of self confidence among Black people in their own ability to manage their affairs, and confirming amongst the Whites the sense of superiority in their dealing with the freed colonial people.
18 years of tutelage was imposed before self -government was granted.
1962: Independence
Jamaica became an Independent democratic Nation State within the British Commonwealth on the 6th August, after over 300 years of British rule (1665 -1962), and 124 years after Emancipation (1838).


British White authority transferred the seals and symbols of power to duly constituted Jamaican Black authority.
Sir Kenneth Blackburn was appointed temporarily as Governor General until Sir Clifford Clarence Campbell was sworn in.
Clifford Campbell was the first Black Governor General of Jamaica.
Independence was celebrated throughout the island with many street parties, special events and memorabilia given to all school children to mark this important milestone in our development.
The Jamaican National Anthem
Replaced the British anthem – God save the Queen. The words of the anthem were by Rev Hugh Sherlock, the music composed by the Hon. Robert Lightbourne.
Eternal Father, bless our land Guard us with thy mighty hand, Keep us safe from evil powers, Be our light through countless hours, To our leaders, Great Defender, Grant true wisdom from above, Justice, truth be ours forever Jamaica, land we love, Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love
Teach us true respect for all, Stir response to duty call, Strengthen us, the weak, to cherish, Give us vision, lest we perish, Knowledge send us, Heavenly Father, Grant true wisdom from above, Justice, truth be ours forever Jamaica, land we love, Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.
The Jamaican National Flag
On the 5th August the red white and blue Union Jack was lowered at midnight and replaced by the Jamaican Flag. The colours of the flag have symbolic meanings.
Black represents hardships overcome and to be faced. Green represents hope and agricultural resources – Gold represents the natural wealth and beauty of sunlight.
The overall message being “Hardships there are but the grass is green and the sun shineth”
In 1997, the Jamaican Parliament debated and changed the symbolic meaning of the flag, i.e.
Black for strength and creativity. Green for the land is green. Gold for the sun shineth
The new message being “The sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative”
The National Pledge
Before God and all mankind, I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, the wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigour of my body in service of my fellow citizens. I promise to stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace, to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly, so that, Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.
National Coat of Arms
The Jamaican coat of arms is a variation of the original, given to Jamaica as an English Colony in 1661, designed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It consists of a shield that bears a red cross with five golden pineapples. Flanked on either side of the cross is a male and female TAINO. The male Taino is shown carrying a bow and arrow and the female Taino is shown. On top of the shield is the royal helmet and mantling with a Jamaican alligator on top of it. Below the shield is the motto “Out of many one people” adopted at the time of Independence.
The 6 National Symbols:
(1) Flower –Lignum Vitae (2) Fruit – Ackee (3) Motto – Out of many one people
(4) Tree – the Blue Mahoe (5) Bird – The swallow tail /streamer tail humming bird (6) Costume – Bandana
The 7 National Awards :
(1) National Hero, of the shield (2) Award of the Nation (3) Award of Merit (4) Award of Jamaica
(5) Commander and Officer distinctions (6) Medal of Honour (7) Badge of Honour

Conclusion – The National Challenge:

All African-Jamaicans should be emboldened to claim their past with its record of heroic uprisings against European oppression, to claim their African heritage and to draw on today’s achievements as a source of empowerment.

Dexter N. Taylor G. (2007) Mango Time. Folk Songs of Jamaica. Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston.
Lewin O. (2000) Rock it come over. The Folk Music of Jamaica. University of the West Indies Press.Kingston. Jamaica
Senior O. (2003) Encyclopaedia of Jamaican Heritage. Twin Guinep Publisher. ………
Sherlock P. Bennett H (1998) The Story of the Jamaican People. Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston Jamaica
Tanna L. (2000) (3rd Ed) Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories. Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.

From: Beverley Bogle – Group Coordinator

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