Our History

Jamaica has a rich and vibrant history, which inspires us to move forward as a nation. Our history speaks to experiences of hardships and prosperity; and the growth and determination of a people.

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Our History

1962 Independence News

Click HERE to read the newspaper from August 6, 1962

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Jamaica Memories

My reconnect with Jamaica – the land I love
By Don Y

No sooner than we landed in Kingston, my brother-in-law, Arthur, and his wife whisked us off to Port Royal to get a taste of some good ole fish tea at Gloria’s, located in front of the Port Royal Constabulary. What an experience! The fish tea was both hot in heat and hot in flavor, but it didn’t burn – just real good. I decided to try their famous Curried Lobster- you shouldn’t leave Gloria’s without experiencing this food art. It took some time in coming but it was worth the wait – every minute of it. It’s a simple dish with two main ingredients – curry powder and lobster meat, right? Wrong! To get the real flavor of curry it has to be fried down with onion, tomatoes, scotch bonnet pepper, etc. to get that special taste, then adding the lobster. It was a lot of lobster, and my wife, Carmen had to help me. It was an incredible meal accompanied with rice.

Next day, Arthur drove us to Bath Fountain mineral springs in Bath, St. Thomas for an exhilarating soak for a mere J$300 (US$3.50) per person. The lack of signs and the abundance of potholes in the roads made it quite an adventure but then, nothing nice comes easy, and it was worth the trouble. Our hostess, Icylene, is Arthur’s sister-in-law and she supplied us with Julie mangoes, star-apples, and ortanique oranges for the five days we spent in Kingston, plus, she took us to Scotchie’s for Jerk Pork and Fried fish filet accompanied by yellow yam and sweet potatoes.

Finished with Kingston, Arthur drove us to Sunset Jamaica Grande resort for a one night, one day stay in Ocho Rios (we couldn’t stay longer due to lack of rooms – the place was packed). Carmen and I left for Montego Bay via a shuttle bus the next day while Arthur and his wife drove back to Kingston. Carmen’s cousin met us in MoBay and we stayed two days with her during which she took us to Doctor’s Cave beach for a day in the sun. What a lovely place!

In one week we were able to enjoy a taste of the island without any pressure, without any fear, and everyone was so nice and respectful. It was the Jamaica we knew before we left, and it makes us wonder why we left in the first place. It occurred to me that maybe we ‘swapped black dog fi monkey’. Peace and love. May God bless Jamaica, land of my birth.

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I I remember Jamaica
by Paula de Ronde

I remember Jamaica when mango time meant licking off the juice as it ran down
to your elbows
I remember sweet Julie, East Indian and Bombay – those were special. I also
remember the common mangoes. The hairy mango – you were still picking the
strings or hair from your teeth two hours after you ate a couple, and the sweet,
sweet blackie. Some so small you could put the whole little mango in your mouth
and savour its sweetness till the yellow seed became white.

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Blue Mountains after Rain
By Gail Scala

Looking out on the lush, cool, clean Blue Mountains after the mid-afternoon
rain shower. The vision of their quiet serenity always reminded me of
majestic sentinels.

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Port Royal Fish
By Diana Burke

We all go to Port Royal – to a fish fry.
They show you the fish; you pick one out
You ask for onions, okra – whatever you want – on it
They put it in a tin foil and cook it
The fish arrives along with 50 others
No label or anything
I’m sure it’s not the fish I ordered
But it’s great!

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Mandeville Morning
By Cynthia Reyes

Daybreak comes gradually on the mountainside

In the darkness, the animals announce it first

From a hillside nearby, a cow moos
In the valley below, a dog barks and is answered by another

A donkey brays
A goat bleats
Another dog barks

The rooster crows

I press the pillow over my ears
Wondering how I ever got a good night’s sleep in this place

Slowly I notice that my mother’s bedroom light is on

“Momma!” I call. “Why on earth are you awake so early?”
It’s four a.m.

And I remember.

She always worked at night

Designing. Sewing.

Watching over us.

Reading her bible and praying.

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My Jamaica Memories
By Nadine Spencer

It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, I’m walking up Half Way Tree Road on my way home from school. I’m wearing a starched crisp yellow uniform, with sharp accordion pleats, crisp sun bleached white shirt, back shoes and brown socks. The hot afternoon sun warms me while the gentle breeze caresses my dark skin. I am eagerly anticipating my weekly Friday treat.  Spiced shrimp; big, plump and delicious. My insatiable craving builds as I think of the flavourful, hot and spicy shrimp, that’s buttery sweet at the same time.   “Same fi yu nice girl?”, yes “Ms Shrimp Lady.”  I gladly pass the bills for the little “peppa shrimp” bag of heaven.  ”Walk good yu ear” she says.

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My Jamaica Memories
By Sandra Whiting

Every summer my Dad would take 2  weeks of his summer vacation to take all of us kids out to see Jamaica on day trips.
Every day, my 2 sisters and our brother would pile into the car and go on picnics and long car drives
To Castleton, to St. Thomas… all around the island
Stopping in all the parishes, buying fruits and food along the way
And just generally learning about Jamaica.

We did this every year… without fail.

On many a Sunday morning we would go to the beach
St. Thomas, Port Royal, along the Palisadoes

This meant my Mum getting up at 5am to prepare the picnic lunch Chicken, rice & peas, salad, macaroni & cheese… the worksI always remember her saying: “the washing and housework can wait.” And even though she never bathed in the sea (afraid of water) we always had a great time.

Some of my happiest memories:
Sea baths, waves, seasickness, food and laughter.

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Christmas memories
Jean Charley, originally from Burnt Savannah, Westmoreland.

“What I missed when I went back to Jamaica to visit one recent Christmas was when people used to whitewash the stones and the lower part of tree trunks. Only one man in our district still did it at Christmas. I was so disappointed! He told me that the younger people don’t keep up with it anymore.”

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Christmas memories
Lorna Pusey, originally from Clarendon

“Some of my best memories are about Christmas. Going to Grand Market in May Pen on Christmas Eve, and staying there very late.
The food: the sorrel and the rice and peas with gungo peas.”

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Duppy Stories
Jean Charley

“We used to listen to the duppy stories at night, but we would have to make sure we washed our feet at the pipe stand in the yard before that – because once the ghost stories were over, we would be way too scared to go out in the dark and wash our feet afterwards! Our mother would tell us: “Go wash yu dirty foot before you come into the house!”

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Peeni Walli (fireflies)
Marsden, originally from Kingston

“My cousins and I made a try at catching peeni wally to put them in the bottle and make a lantern. But the difficulty is catching the little buggers! You have to chase them no end with a bush torn off a tree and knock them down while they are in flight … a pretty tough order. We did get some. This was like 60 years ago – I don’t remember them giving off enough light for reading … but I was a likkle bway.”

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The first time I saw fireworks!
Kamala-Jean Gopie, Toronto

I was at a Quaker boarding school in Highgate, St. Mary. It was the day of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2. We were all given special coronation pencils and taught the song “I vow to thee my country” which we sang with gusto in the Anglican Church in Highgate.Then in the afternoon, off we went to Port Maria in a Friends (Quaker) Education Council truck which was fitted out with wooden planks on which we sat. This was a Beckford truck and we lovingly called it “Becky.” We visited the new library which was in a park that stretched to the water’s edge. I borrowed a book, “Rainbow in the Spray” — my first romance novel. Then as the stars began to appear in the velvet black sky, fireworks appeared out of nowhere. I could not contain my astonishment as the fireworks exploded over the water. The colours were so vibrant. I jumped up and down with absolute glee. When we returned to Highgate that night I had difficulty going to sleep because it had been a glorious day for me.