…if we desert our own principles, if we believe in what we are aiming at, if we appreciate those who regard this country as their home…if we can do those things and be true to what we believe in…and if we can combine with that, hard work and practical intelligence then I believe that we will have launched tonight a movement which – as nothing else started in jamaica – will make this country a real place to say that ‘we come from jamaica.’ –Norman Manley
“We come from jamaica” is a Remarkably compounded book done by Jamaican born , Canadian based writer Ewart “Fats”Walters. Walters is highly reputable journalist, with first hand experience at the newspaper ” Public opinion”. We’re going to give you an brief introduction and a synopsis of the national movement of 1932.
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT ?
In the introduction Walters skillfully describes a country in need of fundamental developments during a period of tense struggle to establish its identity and certain to seize the attention of the people who constituted that identity, In his Prologue he stated that the National Movements was a creative phenomenon located between 1937 and 1962, the year Jamaica secured its independence from britain. Like many movements, it was not registered or formalised in any way. there will undoubtedly be discussions and claims about a drive toward nationhood that began earlier. The goal of the movement was unity -National unity, Slavery had created two distinct streams in the populace but this showed no sign of changing after the slaves were freed. In addition, the people were divided by skin colour which also meant unequal wealth; at one level there were the whites who owned everything, and at the other the blacks who eked out a living on the margins. The issue of a divided and unequal Society was analysed in the 1955 publication of Philip Curtin’s ‘Two Jamaicas: The role of ideas in a tropical country 1830-1865‘. Curtin posited that post-emancipation jamaica was an unequal duality of African Jamaica and European Jamaica. The African side that had to take orders in unfamiliar languages was people by the black slave caste, characterised by cultural practices that were ridiculed and defined by the European castes as primitive and backwards. European Jamaica was the domain of the white and coloured castes, the latter being the brown illegitimate sons and daughters of the planter class. Curtin suggested that the European world saw black people’s souls as the fodder for their religious ideologies, and the slaves bodies as the source of labour. The two Jamaicas – one oriented toward Europe, the other toward Africa; or what some called the Rhythm of africa and the melody of Europe.
Many jamaicans recognise now that the two party system divided the country and damaged the national unity, Mr Walters even said jamaica would have been much farther Ahead now had Alexander Bustamante remained as a supporter of the National Movement and not the adversary he became. It may be noted that this polarisation was not pervasive during the six years 1938 to 1943 when there was only one party. Instead According to Walter’s perspective – there was a unity, a focused determination to build a new and glorious jamaica from the degradation of slavery and apprenticeship but something was lost along the way. First Bustamante’s mounting accusations on the people’s national party (PNP) for Acts of godlessness and Communism, which only subsided when the four top TUC (and PNP) leaders were expelled from the party for being extremist, Secondly when Bustamante took opportunity of the 1938 islandwide strike From which he propelled himself as czar of the trade union movement. it was the emerging trade unions rather than the political parties that fractiousness followed by political violence first showed its ugly face.
” Bustamante unabashedly identified himself with the use of force…violent skirmishes and was a practitioner of the disruptive use of violence to turn back political challenges.”
In the early 1940s PNP supporters were afraid to walk the streets of Downtown kingston as this was the Domain of the BITU longshoremen who, identifying them by their attire often attacked them – anyone who dressed nicely were seen as a PNP supporter, The Westminster system of government, derived from the British creates an artificial fractiousness that leaves the losing party to “oppose, oppose, oppose,” regardless. the exciting spirit of creativeness and togetherness was blunted in 1943 when “Busta” was persuaded by the british to keep manley (his cousin) in check by forming his jamaica labour party (JLP). The Next damage done to the movement was Norman manley’s dalliance with self government through the west indies Federation, only to swing back to his original goal of self government through the independence of jamaica when in 1961 he lost the referendum he surprisingly called. Then in Astounding irony, there was the independence of jamaica in 1962 – ironic because the man who politically had opposed jamaica’s independence for the better part of twenty years was now elected prime minister of “independent” jamaica leaving his crushed cousin and hundred of thousands jamaican in gloom, finally there was the near civil war of 1976-80…the elections of 1976 and 1980 were fought by the JLP with the goal of ousting Michael manley and his policy of Democratic Socialism. In the lead up to the 1976 elections murders suddenly exploded to over 600, Nearly 300 more were added in 1980. But immediately after the ouster of michael manley was achieved, political gunmen mysteriously got visas to the US where they soon surfaced as “posses.”
SUGAR & SLAVERY
For more than 500 years sugar was central to Jamaican life. the white came from europe to the caribbean in search of gold which was expected to be found in El Dorado, a mystic imagined place in the west. When Italian Christopher Columbus (come-buk-us) and his shiploads of Spaniards landed from the vessels provided to him by Queen Isabella of Spain and saw gold rings in the noses of inhabitants of San Salvador Island, one of the Bahamas the search for gold began and intensified rapidly. The spanish prevailed after facing initial resistance from the indigenous people who discovered them on their homelands. But the gold rush was in vain; none was found, The spaniard then turned to tobacco which they saw the tainos cultivating, and finally sugarcane. So, the spanish settlers who arrived in jamaica in 1510 introduced two thing that would shape the future of the island – sugarcane, the means of its production and slavery. In every aspect Slavery was an act of violence on defenceless people, By the end of the 16th century, the enslaved indigenous Arawakan-speaking taino population had been entirely wiped out, suffering from hard labour, ill-treatment, violence and European diseases to which they had no resistance. However it was after the British captured jamaica and took it over from spain that the Slave Trade in all its violence moved into high gear. The British Slave Trade also known as the Atlantic slave trade moved nearly 12 million Black people from Africa across the atlantic to slavery under white whiplash on sugar and cotton plantations in the so called “new world” and this does not include those who died or were killed.
By this Act of massive unpaid forced labour created the towering economic wealth of Britain, the United States and Canada. Ronald Segal ( The black Diaspora, p41 ) explains:
“During The first half of the 17th century West Indian Sugar plantations provide an annual return of roughly 20 percent on capital invested…throughout the period of slave labour the West indian planters made an aggregate profit of over £150 million at an average annual rate of £1,000,000 during the 18th century. Jamaica’s trade alone was worth more in 1773 than the trade of all britain’s plantation colonies on the North American mainland Yet the greater production of wealth in sugar colonies promoted no disposition to invest in diversified economic activities and no general attachment among the beneficiaries to the island that were the source of these benefits.”