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Our History

The Founding of a Jamaican Nation: After a long history of colonial rule, Jamaicans joined together to turn their island into their own nation.

One of the earliest agents of change was Marcus Garvey, honoured today as Jamaica’s first National Hero. The political and cultural activist inspired his followers to develop self-confidence and to organise themselves in the fight against racial oppression and economic and social injustice.

The 1938 Upheaval, when workers on sugar plantations and Kingston docks rose up to demand more equitable wages and better working conditions, turned out to have far-reaching results, as two other 20th-century heroes supported the workers in their struggles. The flamboyant and courageous Alexander Bustamante stepped in to become their steadfast spokesperson. Meanwhile his cousin, Norman Washington Manley — a brilliant lawyer— joined him to represent the workers. They would become the architects of independence.

The next big development would be the granting of full internal self-government from Britain, but that would not come until 1959.

A New Era
At midnight on August 5, 1962, in the National Stadium, full independence finally came to Jamaica. Princess Margaret — who represented Queen Elizabeth II at the ceremony — stood witness as the British Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the Jamaican flag was unfurled. The official meaning of the flag’s colours is: “Black depicts the strength and creativity of the people; gold, the natural wealth and beauty of sunlight; and green, hope and agricultural resources.” The prayerful national anthem, “Eternal Father Bless Our Land,” was then performed publicly for the first time.