By Jueseppi B.
The Jamaican flag is symbolized by the motto: “Hardships there are but the land is green and the sun shineth” The black is hardship and skin color, green is the abundance of resources and yellow is sunshine
August 6, 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’sindependence. The Jamaican people are a mixture of cultures. When Columbus arrived in 1494, he encountered indigenous Arawak people. But over the years, black people were brought in as slaves from Africa, and Chinese and East Indians were imported to Jamaica as indentured servants. Today, the population contains about 90 percent black people descended from African slaves, as well as citizens of mixed heritage. The other ten percent are a mixture of Chinese, East Indian and white.
One of the strongest elements of Jamaican culture is the language called “Jamaican Creole”. Although educated in English, due to British colonialism, Jamaicans consider their version of creole to be an expression of their rebellion against European domination. And in fact, a lot of Jamaican culture revolves around political or social expression. The most notable social and political revolution is the Rasta movement. Also called Rastafari or Rastafarian, it is often erroneously referred to as a religion, but it is really a movement that involves so many different facets and philosophies, and incorporates scriptures and figures from other religions, notably Judaism and Christianity. Since Rasta advocates the smoking of “ganja” [marijuana], the movement sometimes gains a bad reputation.
The Rastafarian movement was born in the 1930s, when Haile Selassie I [formerly named Ras Tafari -1930-1974] became supreme ruler of Ethiopia. Conceived through a prophesy of American Marcus Garvey [of the “Back to Africa” movement], Rastas believe that Selassie is their messiah and has never really died, their version of Jesus. For a wonderful explanation of the Rasta movement and religious beliefs, click here for Catherine Beyer’s article on About.com.
One of the most well-known Rastas was Bob Marley, the father of reggae music, which is associated with Jamaica, and whose songs often depict Rasta themes. Other famous reggae stars are Bob Marley’s son Ziggy, Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh. In the last twenty years, reggae music has become more mainstream, and is popular worldwide. Jamaican food is also becoming more popular, and the classic “jerk sauce” for chicken, fish, pork and other meats has been featured on many Food Network shows, and other cooking channels. Jerk is a combination of a style of cooking introduced by runaway slaves — called “Maroons” — and Arawak spices. For a recipe and cooking video, click here.
Of course, Jamaica is one of the most popular vacation destinations for Americans, Canadians and Europeans. It has one of the most developed infrastructures in the Caribbean for tourism, which is its biggest industry. This week, they celebrate a half-century of independence from Great Britain
Fifty years of Jamaican Independence: Developments and Impacts – Opening Address
Fifty years of Jamaican Independence: Developments and Impacts – Opening Adress
Opening Address (Chair: Kate Quinn)
H.E. Anthony Johnson, Jamaican High Commissioner in London
August 2012 will mark two significant anniversaries, but will also signal a third, which is rarely acknowledged. On 6 August and 31 August 2012, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, respectively, will celebrate 50 years of independence from the UK. However, the third, unobserved date is that this month and the two anniversaries together, symbolise the beginning of the independence process for most of the Commonwealth Caribbean. For the people in the region, independence came with tremendous, perhaps unrealistic, expectations. Freedom from colonial tutelage and domination was at the forefront, but the experience of the last 50 years has been a lesson on the limitation of sovereignty. Another area where there was great hope was in relation to the economy, with expected prosperity and social well-being. The experiences of the past 50 years have turned out to be sobering and contradictory, at best. This one-day conference provides a multi-disciplinary overview of Jamaica’s internal development since independence, as well as the country’s impact on the Caribbean and the wider world.
Filed under: Black History, Education, Good News, History, News, Speech, Videos, World News Tagged: | Africa, Bob Marley, Caribbean, Haile Selassie I, jamaica, Jamaican Independence, Rasta, Rastafari, Rastafari movement