Jamaica's National Heroes
Compiled from various Jamaican History
books by Donna Lewis Essix
Jamaicas National Heroes dared to challenge
the institution of colonialism and in so doing changed the course
of Jamaicas history giving social and political freedom to
its people. Today, the statues of Jamaicas seven National
Heroes stand in proud acknowledgment, in the National Heroes Park
in Kingston where they are viewed with inspiring pride, unforgettable
symbols of Jamaicas enduring strength.
birth date uncertain-died 1865.
Paul Bogle, a Baptist Deacon was generally regarded as a peaceful
man who shunned violence. He believed in the teachings of the Bible,
endorsing the principles of charity and endurance. Yet he was also
a leader and organizer who knew well the terrains of the land and
had spent time in educating and training his followers. He lived
in St. Thomas and led the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865.
GEORGE WILLIAM GORDON
George William Gordon was a free colored land owner and an associate
of Bogle. As a member of the House of Parliament, he used his position
to highlight the sufferings of the people and to make a plea for
changes. The Morant Bay Rebellion and the resultant deaths of Bogle
and Gordon precipitated the beginning of a new era in Jamaicas
development. The British government became compelled to make changes
including outstanding reforms in education, health, local government,
banking and infrastructure.
lived and died in Nanny Town.
Nanny of the Maroons stands out in history as the only female among
Jamaicas national heroes. She possessed that fierce fighting
spirit generally associated with the courage of men. In fact, Nanny
is described as a fearless Asante warrior who used militarist techniques
to foul and beguile the English. Like the heroes of the pre Independence
era, Nanny too met her untimely death at the instigation of the
English sometime around 1734. Yet, the spirit of Nanny of the Maroons
remains today as a symbol of that domitable desire that will never
yield to captivity.
Daddy Sam Sharpe, as he was affectionately called was
to carry on the Resistance against slavery effecting at the young
age of 31, the most outstanding Slave Rebellion in Jamaicas
history. Sharpe, an educated town slave, was a preacher and spokesman.
Intelligent and sharp, he followed the developments of the abolition
movement by reading discarded local and foreign papers and was able
to advise his followers. Sharpe was tired of slavery, spent months
in strategic planning, educating the slaves and traveling from estate
to estate in secret meetings at nights, igniting the slaves with
inspiring messages of hope of freedom. The 1831 Christmas Rebellion
started in St. James and spread throughout the entire island. The
Rebellion started on December 28 and lasted 8 days. Sam Sharpe was
eventually captured and hung at the Parade in Montego Bay (now renamed
Sam Sharpe Square). On August 28, 1833 slavery was abolished and
the System of Apprenticeship instituted, allowing for the total
freedom of slaves in the next 4-6 years. On August 1, 1938 the Apprenticeship
System ended granting full freedom to the slaves.
SIR ALEXANDER BUSTAMANTE
Alexander Bustamante was an aggressive, outspoken young man who
understood the dynamics of labor relations. A charismatic and impressive
speaker, he used the media to criticize the prevailing political
system and its attendant social problems. He started the Industrial
Trade Union in 1938 and was jailed for 17 moths following labor
riots. He became Jamaicas first Chief Minister, a position
he held until 1954, being knighted that same year by the queen.
On August 6, 1962 Jamaica was granted full independence. At the
first session of Parliament, Bustamante received the Instruments
of Independence from the queens representative, Princess Margaret.
This time in Jamaicas history drastic changes were heralded,
not by bloodshed but by peaceful negotiations.
NORMAN WASHINGTON MANLEY
Norman Washington Manley founded the Peoples National Party
which later was tied to the Trade Union Congress and the N.W. U.
Together with Bustamante, their efforts resulted in the New Constitution
of 1944 granting full Adult Suffrage. In 1955 Manley was elected
Chief Minister. The 400 year British Rule, invoking slavery, deculturisation,
uprising and bloodshed was not at an end.
MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY
Marcus Mosiah Garvey stands out in history as one who was greatly
committed to the concept of the Emancipation of minds. Garvey who
was born in St. Ann became famous worldwide as a leader who was
courageous and eloquent in his call for improvement for Blacks.
He sought the unification of all Blacks through the establishment
of the United Negro Improvement Association and spoke out against
economic exploitation and cultural denigration. He spent many years
in the United States pursuing his goal of Black Unification.