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CrazyFruits13  » Jamaican's History & Events pieces from the past » JAMAICAN BLACK AND ARAWAK HISTORY


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1bat JAMAICAN BLACK AND ARAWAK HISTORY on Sun 15 Nov 2009 - 10:51



Jamaica is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles, in the Caribbean. The original inhabitants of Jamaica are the Arawaks, believed to have arrived from South America some 2,500 years ago. Although there is no official figure, it has been suggested that there were up to 100,000 Arawaks, when the Spanish, headed by Christopher Columbus, arrived in 1494.

Spain sent Juan de Esquivel to establish a settlement in 1509, which marked the beginning of Spain's colonization of Jamaica. The Spanish established ‘Sevilla la Nueva’ on the northern part of the island, as their centre but transferred in 1523 for ‘Saint Jago de la Vega’ (now Spanish Town) in the south. Spanish settlers began to arrive in Jamaica, bringing with them foreign disease as well as overworking, and poor conditions. By the late 16th century the Arawak population had been completely wiped out, by the Spanish.

On May 10, 1655, an English expedition, commanded by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables landed on the coastal town of Passage Fort, in Saint Catherine. Their intended expedition was to take control of Hispanola, which turned out to be heavily defended, and they were unsuccessful. They instead turned the island of Jamaica, where the Spanish were unable to withstand the attack. The Spanish, conceded defeat at fled too Cuba, but not before they freed their slaves, who left the capital for the hills, creating the Maroon society.

In 1664 Sir Thomas Modyford, a sugar plantation and slave owner in Barbados, was appointed first governor of Jamaica, for the British. Modyford began expanding plantation agriculture, with cacao and sugarcane. By the early 1700s sugar estates worked by black slaves were established throughout the island, and plantation profits dominated the economy. The slave trade grew, and both males and females of all ages, were labourers on the plantations, domestic servants, as well as skilled tradesmen, technicians, and traders.

It has been estimated that more than 1 million people were enslaved and were transported directly from Africa to Jamaica during this time. Some were then re-exported to other islands and America. The Akan, Ga, and Adangbe from the north-western coastal region, the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) dominated the slave trade to the island until the late 1770’s slaves were imported from other parts of Africa. Igbos from the Bight of Biafra (southern Nigeria) and Kongos from Central Africa.

Maroon and slave rebellions made keeping control difficult for the English, the maroon communities grew, and many escaped slaves continued to join them. There were a number of maroon communities, but two main groups emerged, the Leeward Maroons in the south central, area of the island and the Windward Maroons in the north and northeast. They were highly skilled ‘guerrilla’ fighters, with superior knowledge of the terrain, and carried out relentless ambushing campaigns, mostly successful, which eventually forced the English in 1739, to grant autonomy (the right of self-government-The Maroons were given their freedom and land. They were to govern themselves, and in return support the British authorities in capturing runaways from the plantations), ending the First Maroon War

The Second Maroon War started in July 1795, when maroon community of Trelawny Town (now Flagstaff) revolted against indignities and injustice they still suffered by the authorities. The British flogged a Trelawny Town Maroon in Montego Bay for stealing. The Maroons, were finally defeated when British imported bloodhounds and Amerindians to track them down.

The surviving maroon communities are Nanny Town; Scott's Hall in the present-day northern parish of Saint Mary; and Accompong (named for Cudjoe's brother, who had distinguished himself as a military leader with the Windward Maroons) in the south-western parish of Saint Elizabeth.

For the decades following, injustice and tensions still ran high, until the 1831 Baptist War otherwise known as the Christmas revolution or the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt. Initial intentions for a peaceful resistance, led by 'Daddy' Samuel Sharpe, a Baptist deacon and domestic slave, failed, and it became a 10 day rebellion that began in Saint James and spread throughout western Jamaica. Thousands of maroons and escaped slaves razed plantations and murdered planters. The English unable to take control of the uprising by force, made a number of false promises of freedom, so the Maroons lay down their arms. In retaliation all who were thought to have been associated including white missionaries, were either imprisoned or killed. Hundreds of Blacks, including Sharpe, were executed.

Life in Jamaica during the 1860s saw some ex-slaves doing well, while others were starving. The Morant Bay Rebellion was a result of the arrest and imprisonment on October 7, 1865 of a black man for trespassing. There was widespread anger, and a group led by Paul Bogle, on October 11, to the court house in Spanish Town to speak with Governor Eyre. They were met with gunfire from volunteer militia groups. In the days that followed the ‘rebels’ roamed the countryside. The reprisals were harsh, Bogle was captured and hung, along with anyone thought to have been involved.

When the news reached England, a public outcry intensified antislavery pressure on the government by the Quakers (Society of Friends) in Britain, led by Thomas Buxton, Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce, and Stephen Lushington.

From 1838 to 1917, thousands of Indians and Chinese went to Jamaica as indentured labourers. Other ethnic groups including Syrians, Lebanese, and Jews By 1958, Jamaica became a key member of the British-sponsored West Indies Federation. This diversity became the foundation of Jamaica's constitution at independence, in 1962, with the island's motto becoming 'Out of Many, One People’.

National Anthem: "Jamaica, Land We Love".

Last edited by Admin on Mon 12 Apr 2010 - 21:10; edited 2 times in total

2bat Re: JAMAICAN BLACK AND ARAWAK HISTORY on Thu 7 Jan 2010 - 14:32


Jamaican History from Arawaks to Independence

Jamaican History from Arawaks to Independence 

           Arawak Girl                               Postage Stamp

The island of Jamaica was Origonally inhabited by the Tainos. Traditionally, Tainos were called Arawaks.  Analysis of prehistoric languages and cultures has revealed that the Tainos and the Arawaks were two different groups and that it was the former group that resided in Jamaica.
The arrival of the Spaniards in 1494 marked the beginning of drastic changes in the lifestyle of the Tainos as they were forced into slavery.  On Columbus' fourth voyage to the New World in 1503, he sought refuge near a Taino village called Maima in Jamaica.  This was due to his ships being in a state of disrepair.  He remained on the island for a year before returning to Spain.

In 1508, Colombus' son Diego was appointed Governor of the Indies.  Diego later appointed Juan de Esquivel, Governor of Jamaica.
Under the rule of the Spaniards the Taino population dramatically declined as a result of the combination of new diseases such as smallpox, and the ill treatment meted out to them by the colonists.  By 1598, less than half of the Taino population remained

Since the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World other European countries constantly vied for control of their holdings.  In addition, Spanish ships were constantly under attack.  Jamaica was not without its share.  As early as 1555 the French attacked the island, then the English, in 1597 under the leadership of Sir Anthony Shirley.
It was not until 1655, however, that the Spanish were driven from the island by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables.  The Spanish were forced to flee the island but not before freeing the people that were in servitude who took to the hills where they remained a constant thorn in the side of the English.

In an effort to settle the island Cromwell issued his famous proclamation, which granted land to British citizens who were willing to settle on the island.  In 1656 approximately 20,000 immigrants arrived and settled around Port Morant.  Although the Spaniards were driven out they never gave up hope of recapturing the island of Jamaica and in 1658 another Spanish force landed but was defeated at the decisive battle at Rio Nuevo.
By the late Seventeenth Century, Port Royal had earned the reputation of being the richest and the wickedest city in the world.  In 1692 this town suffered destruction by an earthquake in which more than half of the town sank beneath the sea.  This signaled the end of piracy in the West Indies.

The second half of the Seventeenth Century saw the beginning of the "sugar revolution".  Large parcels of land were planted in sugar cane.  The whole process of making sugar required a huge labour force.  The English planters sought various groups to provide the much needed labour.  African servitude was not new to the West Indies and had been introduced by the Spanish and the Portuguese.  Later, the Dutch supplied enslavement from Africa, and they taught the English the techniques necessary for the production of sugar.

The Africans brought to Jamaica were from many tribes, although the majority were Coromantees from the Gold Coast, Eboes from the Bight of Benin and Mandingoes.  The Coromantees are described as being a strong, brave, proud and fierce race.  Most of the slave revolts  in Jamaica were led by Coromantee slaves.

There was resistance to servitude by Africans, both passive and active. Examples of passive resistance included poisoning of masters, destruction of property, and infanticide.  In the case of active resistance, there were open rebellions, and many Africans ran away and joined forces with the rest who were set free by the Spanish or who had fled to the interior hills of the island.  They were later called Maroons.  In 1735 - 1739 they fought against the British in what was called the Maroon War
The abolition of the enslavement trade in 1807, marked the beginning of the end of slavery and the economic power of the Jamaican planters.  By 1813, the wealth of the West Indian planters could no longer muffle the cries of the abolitionists and humanitarians to free the Africans.  Consequently, in 1833 enslavement was abolished in the British West Indies and a system of apprenticeship was adopted.  The objective of the apprenticeship system was to help the Africans adjust to their free status and to supply the planters with a source of constant labour until they could adjust to full wage labour.  The abuses of the system brought about a premature end to servitude and in 1838 full freedom was given.

Although taken from their country of origin the Africans retained some aspects of their culture.  In the case of their language some African words, such as "nyam", "duckunnoo", "patoo", and language patterns which include the repetition of a word, as in the case of  "chaka chaka" meaning chaotic, and "little little" meaning very small, were retained.

The abolition of enslavement saw a rise in the construction of Free Villages, and growth in peasant farming.  There was also an increase in the membership of Nonconformist Churches and a system of education for the freedom of Africans  was introduced.  In addition, the planters' fear of mass migration of ex-servants from the plantation saw the introduction of other racial groups to replace slave labour.  Groups brought in included Europeans (Germans, Scots and Portuguese), Free Africans, Chinese and East Indians.

Although many things had changed, social conditions remained more or less the same for Africans.  By the 1860's the situation had worsened and gave rise to what was later called, the Morant Bay Rebellion.  The Morant Bay Rebellion brought about some changes in Jamaica, firstly, the system of Government changed from Representative to Crown Colony (or direct Crown rule), secondly, the Anglican Church was disestablished, thirdly, the Institute of Jamaica was founded to encourage literature, science and art.  By 1872 the capital was transferred from Spanish Town to Kingston.  There was an improvement in the water supply and a number of schools were established.  There was a shift from sugar to banana production.
The Great War (1914 - 1918) gave many Jamaicans the opportunity to travel which in turn helped to shape their views of the system of Government.  In addition, during the early Twentieth Century, many Jamaicans left in search of employment in the Panama Canal Zone, and in Costa Rica, Cuba and Honduras to work on the plantations.  The movement of people brought about a change in ideas by the 1920's.  Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who promoted unity among blacks and pride in their race, became a prominent figure during this period. 
     Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Like the rest of the world, Jamaica in 1929 began experiencing a depression in its economic growth.  This resulted in a continuous decline in social conditions.  By 1938, the workers in an effort to improve their situation went on strike and related upheavals ended with the death of some workers.  The 1938 labour riots was another turning point in the history of the people of Jamaica.
Alexander Bustamante who emerged as leader of the new labour movement founded the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) later to be associated with the Jamaica Labour Party. In 1938 Norman Manley, the island's foremost barrister, and a cousin of Bustamante formed the People's National Party.  Manley led the country to Self Government and Bustamante later became the first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica. 

By 1944, adult suffrage was granted giving all males and females 21 years of age and over, the right to vote.  The journey towards Self Government had begun.The first election under Universal Adult Suffrage was held in 1944 and the Jamaica Labour Party won  25  out of a total of 32 seats.

The Federation of the West Indies was launched in 1959 and Jamaica was a part of this group. In 1961, a referendum was called to determine whether or not the people of Jamaica should remain a part of the Federation. The Jamaican people voted for Independence.

In January 1962, a draft of the Independence Constitution was brought before both Houses and after a full debate was unanimously approved. It was also agreed that the 300 year old Coat of Arms would be retained and the Latin motto "Indus Uterque Serviet  Uni" changed to one in English  "Out of Many One People".

At midnight 5th August 1962 the British Flag was lowered and the Jamaican Flag was hoisted for the first time.  On the 6th of August 1962 Jamaica was given its independence. Sir Kenneth Blackburne was the last Colonial Governor and the first Governor General.  Afterwards, Sir Clifford Campbell, formerly President of the Senate, became the first Jamaican Governor General.

A bipartisan committee of the Jamaica House of Representatives designed the Jamaican Flag which consists of a diagonal cross with four triangles placed side by side. The diagonal cross is gold; the top and bottom triangles are green; and the hoist and fly (side) triangles are black.

“The sun shineth, the land is green and the people are strong and creative” is the symbolism of the colours of the flag. Black depicts the strength and creativity of the people; Gold, the natural wealth and beauty of sunlight; and green, hope and agricultural resources.


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