Jamaica's first National Hero was born in St. Ann's Bay, St. Ann, on August 17, 1887. In his youth Garvey migrated to Kingston, where he worked as a printer and later published a small paper "The Watchman".
During his career Garvey travelled extensively throughout many countries, observing the poor working and living conditions of black people.
In 1914 he started the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in Jamaica. The
UNIA, which grew into an international organisation,
encouraged self-government for black people worldwide; self-help economic
projects and protest against racial discrimination.
In 1916, Garvey went to the USA where he preached his doctrine of freedom to the oppressed blacks throughout the country.
However, USA officials disapproved of his activities and he was imprisoned, then deported.
Back in Jamaica in 1927, he continued his political activity, forming the People's Political Party in 1929. He was
unsuccessful in national elections but won a seat on the
Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).
But the world of the 1930s was not ready for Garvey's progressive ideas. He left Jamaica again, this time for England where he died in
1940. His body was brought back to Jamaica in 1964 and buried in the National Heroes Park in Kingston.
Garvey's legacy can be summed up in the philosophy he taught - race pride, the need for African unity; self-reliance; the need for black people to be organised and for rulers to govern on behalf of the working classes.
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|Samuel Sharpe was the main instigator of the 1831 Slave Rebellion, which began on the Kensington Estate in St. James and which was largely instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery.
Because of his intelligence and leadership qualities, Sam Sharpe became a "daddy", or leader of the native Baptists in Montego Bay. Religious meetings were the only permissible forms of organised activities for the slaves. Sam Sharpe was able to communicate his concern and encourage political thought, concerning events in England which affected the slaves and Jamaica.
Sam evolved a plan of passive resistance in 1831, by which the slaves would refuse to work on Christmas Day of 1831 and afterwards, unless their grievances concerning better treatment and the consideration of freedom, were accepted by the state owners and managers.
Sam explained his plan to his chosen supporters after his religious meetings and made them kiss the Bible to show their loyalty. They, in turn took the plan to the other parishes until the idea had spread throughout
St. James, Trelawny, Westmoreland, and even St. Elizabeth and Manchester.
Word of the plan reached the ears of some of the planters. Troops were sent into St. James and warships were anchored in Montego Bay and Black River, with their guns trained on the towns.
On December 27,1831, the Kensington Estate Great House was set on fire, as a signal that the Slave Rebellion had
begun. A series of other fires broke out in the area and soon it was clear that the plan of non-violent resistance, which Sam Sharpe had originated, was impossible and impractical.
Armed rebellion and seizing of property spread mostly through the western parishes, but the uprising was put down by the first week in January.
A terrible retribution followed. While 14 whites died during the Rebellion, more than 500 slaves lost their lives - most of them as a result of the trials after.
Samuel Sharpe was hanged on May 23, 1832. In 1834 the Abolition Bill, was passed by the British Parliament and in 1838, slavery was abolished.
Sharpe had said: "I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery".
|Nanny was a leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the
18th century. She was known by both the Maroons and the
British settlers as an outstanding military leader who became, in her lifetime and after, a symbol of unity and strength for her people during times of crisis.
She was particularly important to them in the fierce fight with the British, during the First Maroon War from 1720 to 1739. Although she has been immortalised in songs and legends, certain facts about Nanny (or "Granny Nanny", as she was affectionately known) have also been documented.
Both legends and documents refer to her as having exceptional leadership qualities. She was a small, wiry woman with piercing eyes. Her influence over the Maroons was so strong, that it seemed to be supernatural and was said to be connected to her powers of obeah. She was particularly skilled in organising the guerilla warfare carried out by the Eastern Maroons to keep away the British troops who attempted to penetrate the mountains to overpower them.
Her cleverness in planning guerilla warfare confused the British and their accounts of the fights reflect the surprise and fear which the Maroon traps caused among them.
Besides inspiring her people to ward off the troops, Nanny was also a type of chieftainess or wise woman of the village, who passed down legends and encouraged the continuation of customs, music and songs, that had come with the people from Africa, and
which instilled in them confidence and pride.
Her spirit of freedom was so great that in 1739, when Quao signed the second Treaty (the first was signed bv Cudjoe for the
Leeward Maroons a few months earlier) with the British, it is reported that Nanny was very angry
and in disagreement with the principle of peace with the British, which she knew meant another form of subjugation.
There are many ledgends about Nanny among the Maroons. Some even claim that there were several women who were leaders of the Maroons during this period of history. But all the legends and documents refer to Nanny of the
First Maroon War, as the most outstanding of them all, leading her people with courage and inspiring them to struggle to maintain that spirit of freedom,
and life of independence, which was their rightful inheritance.
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