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Jamaica gained its independence in 1962. The period covered between 1945 and 1962 is particularly significant in the discussion of the independence of this island. In this essay the independence of Jamaica is discussed and the people who fought for the same are brought to light. Brief background information is given to help make the topic easily comprehensible.
It is reported that the very first people to set foot on Jamaica were the Tainos. The Tainos were said to be “Arawak speaking tribe that travelled throughout the Caribbean after leaving South America” (Pushing Ahead 1). It is reported that the Tainos left a huge influence on the island with the name ‘Jamaica’ originating from them. The Tainos are said to have stayed in the island peacefully until the Spanish arrival which is said to have caused a lot of unrest in the island.
The Tainos were enslaved and subjected to a lot of torture which is claimed to have eventually wiped them out. To replace the Tainos, Africans were imported to Jamaica to work as slaves. Between 1596 and 1655 the British fought and eventually defeated the Spanish. The Spanish fled but equipped the slaves who were Africans.
The British are said to have brought more Africans to help in the plantation of sugarcane. As the British developed the economy of the island the slaves were subjected to hard labour which led to many revolts. In 1834 the emancipation law was created which necessitated the import of more servants from India and China to help in the farms (Pushing Ahead 1).
On Path to Independence
The path to independence started when trade unions started to be formed. In 1938 there was a major workers strike which destabilised the island. One of those arrested for spear heading the strike was Bustamante. The Industrial Trade Union was found by Bustamante and later on Bustamante also formed the labour Party. Another influential person who surfaced at this time was Norman Manley. Manley formed the People’s National party which was also associated with Trade Union Council (Joining Together 1).
In 1944 there was a significant change in the constitution of the island. Among the many significant changes the amendment brought was the right for the Africans to vote. This is said to have increased the number of voters from a simple figure of twenty thousand to seven hundred thousand voters (Joining Together 1). Two elections were held before the constitution was again amended in 1953 to give the ministers more power.
It should be noted that power was continuously changed between Bustamante and Manley through their respective parties. More amendments of the constitution were carried out in the following years of 1955 which lead to a government which with many Jamaica leaders taking up political positions. Jamaica became part of the Federation of West Indies but later removed itself from the federation after the Jamaicans voting against it through referendum.
Soon after Jamaica opted out of the federation it fell apart. The British agreed to discuss the independence of Jamaica with the independence date set as at August 6, 1962 (Igniting Independence 1).
The Jamaica Labour Party won the first election in the independent Jamaica. A new political party was formed that is the People’s Political Party. It Bustamante and Manley were the two influential figures in the politics of Jamaica and power exchanged handed between them in the elections that followed (Igniting Independence 1).
Igniting Independence. Igniting Independence. Jamaica Guide, 2011. Web.
Joining Together. Joining Together. Jamaica Guide, 2011. Web.
Pushing Ahead. Pushing Ahead. Jamaica Guide, 2011. Web.