Happy Jamaica Independence Day Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,
Saturday, August 6th, 2016, was Jamaican Independence Day! In honor of this momentous occasion, we presented a special Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show on August 2nd, 2016 that featured two hours of the best Jamaican rhythm and blues recordings released in the year of Jamaica’s Independence,1962! Joyous songs of freedom from Prince Buster, Owen Gray, Laurel Aitken, Don Drummond and many many more!
From 1934-1939, Jamaica would experience the British West Indian labour unrest due to the the severe inequalities between British settlers and native Jamaicans. This protest for equality for native Jamaicans would galvanize the beliefs for Jamaican autonomy, with Alexander Bustamante emerging as the thought leader for the protest and a founder of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union. Alongside the Union, Norman Manley, Bustamante’s cousin, formed the People’s National Party. Originally, Bustamente approved the party and was a member, but he disagreed with parts of the party’s platform. As a result, he founded the Jamaica Labour Party in 1943. The JLP and PNP would dominate the politics in these years leading up to independence.
In 1944, Jamaica got Universal Adult Suffrage whereby each adult had the right to vote irrespective of gender, race or financial status, beginning to raise further thoughts around independence. In 1955, a new constitution was ratified and put in place a two-chamber legislature and organized an Executive Council made up of ten members of the legislature and chaired by the new position of Premier, the head of government. It also set a foundation for a system of checks and balances.
In 1958, Jamaica gained more authority when the nation became independently accountable for all internal affairs and in 1958, Jamaica became a province in the Federation of the West Indies. Immediately, the political parties in power were weary of the federation because the capital was chosen to be in Trinidad
On May 30, 1960 Bustamante, pulled himself and the members of the JLP from the West Indies Parliament. Then, on September 19, 1961, Manley, who was the Premier at the time, demanded a referendum vote to see if Jamaica’s residents wanted to participate in the federation or not. Jamaica sought to secede from the federation in 1962, igniting another spark to begin seeking independence from Britain. In February 1962 marked a major success line for the movement for Jamaican autonomy; both Manley and Bustamante traveled to meet with the British Parliament to discuss independence and a new Constitution, and the independence date.
Immediately after the meeting, April 10th was set as the voting day to elect the first Prime Minister of Jamaica. Alexander Bustamante won the election in April, becoming Jamaica’s first Prime Minister and then, on July 19th, 1962, the British Parliament passed the Jamaica Independence Act, granting independence on August 6th, 1962. On that independence day, Princess Margaret traveled to Jamaica to represent the Queen in the opening session of Jamaica’s Parliament. Across the island, celebrations began with the exchange of the British flag with Jamaica’s black, gold, and green flag. The inaugural Jamaica Independence festival occurred on independence day with the event initiated by Edward Seaga featuring many music performances, including one from Lynn Taitt’s own band from Trinidad, who had been invited by Byron Lee. Furthermore, Eric Coverly, the man behind the floats of the Jamaica Bandwagon and the husband of Louise Bennett, designed floats and arranged for additional arts celebrations for the momentous day.
Happy Jamaica Independence Day! Please enjoy our tribute: