Jamaica’s Fiftieth Anniversary: Memorable Jamaican Moments

Jamaica is the 3rd largest Caribbean Island, however, it is a country with tremendous potential and talent. Jamaicans are noted for excelling in all their endeavors; academically, in sports and entertainment. Many Jamaicans in history have aspired to enviable positions that most people dream about in a lifetime.

Since Jamaica’s Independence on August 5, 1962, the nation has taken on a life of its own and flourished beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Some of the accomplishments and achievements have been recorded as monumental feats in world history.

Most of Jamaica’s celebrated moments have brought the country great pride, dignity and respect. Here are a few of the Land of Wood & Water’s Most Memorable Moments in Time:


The Right Honourable Edward Philip George Seaga was elected as Jamaica’s Fifth Prime Minister. The first person of Jamaican descent to become Prime Minister. He was instrumental for putting Jamaica on the map regarding the formation of several entities that would make Jamaica competitive in the world markets. For example, he founded the Jamaica Stock Exchange in 1969, Jamaican Mortgage Bank in 1973, JAMPRO (Jamaican National Investments Production Ltd.), HEART (Human Employment & Resource Training Program) in 1983, the company trained and empowered Jamaicans to join the workforce.


Honourable Gordon Arthur Cyril “Butch” Stewart, OJ, Founder and Chairman of Sandals & Beaches Resorts. He is considered “King of All Resorts”. In 1981, he introduced Sandals to Jamaica, one of the first all inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, creating a billion dollar empire with Sandals and Beaches becoming just as competitive as other hotels and resorts in the world.


Jamaica’s National Football Team, The Reggae Boyz qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, which lead to five victories from 1991-2010.

Jamaica’s Beauties Reign
Jamaica wins three Ms. World titles, the first in 1963, Carole Crawford, the second in 1976 by Cindy Breakspeare and the third by Lisa Hanna. In 2010, Yendi Phillips becomes First Runner-up in Ms. Universe Pageant.
Visitors to Jamaica:

June 1965, Martin Luther King visits Jamaica delivering Valedictorian Speech to University of The West Indies graduates. The speech was entitled, “Facing the Challenge of a New Age”.

April 1966, Emperor Haile Selassie, also known as Ras Tafari vists Jamaica, the day is declared a public holiday. Jamaicans come from all over the country to hear him speak.

April 1975, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 visit Jamaica and perform at Jamaica’s National Stadium. Every young teenager excuses themselves to attend the concert. A historical moment is created when Michael Jackson and his brother pose for pictures with Jamaica’s Reggae legend, Bob Marley.

2002, Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Jamaica to commemorate her Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The Queen has visited Jamaica six times from March 1966-2002.

Athletic Victories

1988, Jamaica Bobsled Team makes history in the Winter Olympics in Calgary by competing. Their spirit of championship inspired the movie “Cool Runings”. A great accomplishment for a country that has never experienced snow.

2008, Veronica Campbell Brown gave Jamaica its first Olympic Gold Medal for 200m in Beijing Olympics.

May 2009, Usain Bolt, Jamaican Sprinter is discovered as the world’s fastest man. He won the 100m and 200m in the Berlin Games.

Bridgette Foster Hylton won Gold in the female 100m Hurdle Final in Berlin.

Kerron Stewart won 4X100m . (Berlin)

Asafa Powell set a new championship record. (Berlin)

Shelly Ann Fraser, Jamaican Sprinter, created history by winning with record time of 10.73. First Jamaican woman to run at that speed in the 100m. (Berlin)

In 2011, Usain Bolt completed record time of 9.58 seconds in Daegu, Korea.

2011 Penn Relays-Calabar Jamaica wins the High School Boys’ Division Discus 228’1′- Penn Relays record, second fastest in history.

Jamaican Martial Arts Team earns 43 victories, including three Pan Asian Titles. Jamaica has defeated competitors from the Pan American region, Asia and Europe. On November 29, 2011, they won their 44th consecutive victory defeating a Pacific Asian Team in Manila.

October 2011, Jamaica Cricket Team wins Super50 Honors, acquiring Clive Lloyd Trophy. A five wicket victory over Trinidad and Tobago.

January 2008, Right Honourable Prime Minister Michael Manley posthumously inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

November 2000, Colin Luther Powell, Four Star General in The United States Army serves as the 65th United States Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. He also served as National Security Advisor to former President Ronald Reagan.

2004, Lennox Lewis, greatest Heavyweight of all time retires as the last undisputed Heavy Weight Champion of The World.

2007, Patrick Ewing, NBA Basketball Player, Former Knick elected to Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cerebral Wins

1998, Judy Anne Maxwell wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship with the word “Chiaroscurist”. The first Caribbean person to win.

Oct-Nov 2002

The 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia

Jamaican Vanessa Thomas beats Slovenian Ksenija Novak

Jamaican Maria Palmer won over New Zealand Vivian Smith

Jamaican Hui ZHu declares victory over Botswana’s Tshepiso Lopany, earning a FIDE rating of 2050

Shane Mathews declared Jamaica’s highest rated Chess Player

Mark Smith wins over the Dominican Republic’s Marcello Cerrion

Duane Rowe wins from Malta’s Joseph Grech

James Patterson wins over Aruba’s Leonardo Carter

July 26, 2006 Louise Bennett-Coverly, OM, OJ, MBE, Jamaican Folklorist, Icon and Poet dies.

2006, Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller becomes First Female Prime Minister of Jamaica.

May 2007, Jamaica Reggae Film Festival launched, creating a platform to increase and promote
Jamaican talent in the movie industry.

2007, Sean Kingston, Reggae Fusion Singer and Rapper rises to mega fame with “Beautiful Girls” and “Fire Burning”, creating a multi-million dollar empire.

August 2010, University of Technology launches region’s first Pharm D Degree Program in order to fill the Country’s deficit for trained Pharmacists.

October 2011, Angella Reid becomes the new White House Usher. First Woman named Chief Usher of the White House, overseeing all household staff and grounds at the President’s home.

November 2011, Book Launch of “In Praise of Jamaica: Jamaican Natural Wonders, Heroes and Achievments” written by Jamaican George Meikle.

Jamaica is filled with innovative and brilliant people always striving to make something of themselves or joining the rest of the world in healthy competition. There are many critics who often comment, why Jamaica always has to be up front or first all the time and I can only answer that question by saying, “We are simply the best, because we try harder, whatever tasks we put our minds to, we usually excel.”

As they say in Jamaica, “Leave it to a Jamaican to come up with an ingenious plan.”  Sometimes we are the master minds to the world’s greatest events in history.


About the author

Denise Lee