Jamaica at 60 St Ann

NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022 12 Paul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer THE PARISH of St Ann can easily be regarded as the place where Jamaica, as an island state, started. It is where the Europeans first landed, where their first settlement was built, where the genocide of the indigenous Tainos unfolded, where the Africans were first enslaved, and thus, perhaps where the institutions of British colonialism and slavery in Jamaica were established. In 1962, the British government released Jamaica from its colonial grasp. It meant that it was no longer going to manage the dayto-day affairs of the country. Yet, the Queen remains head of state. This has left the country in a sovereignty conundrum which many people cannot fathom. The country has gone through five major political periods – slavery, Emancipation, Federation, Independence and post-Independence. And, long before political Independence, there was a man who went around advocating for the independence, self-reliance and uplifting of black people the world over. He was born on August 17, 1887, as Malcus Mosiah Garvey at 32 Market Street, St Ann’s Bay. His first name was subsequently changed to Marcus. His father was a stonemason, while his mother, Sarah Jane Richards, was a domestic worker. Garvey Jr had a normal childhood. In addition to his black friends, he had white neighbours, playmates and classmates with whom he played cricket and baseball. He was educated eventually by many sources: private tutors, public schools, high schools and colleges. While still attending primary school, Garvey became a printer’s apprentice in the shop of his godfather, Alfred E. Burrowes, who was a highly educated and alert man. In 1901, Garvey left school at age 14 to work as a printer’s apprentice. Garvey’s foray into political activism started while he was working in the printing department of P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company in Kingston. He was 18, and began to yearn for service of some kind. At age 21, he started his very first newspaper, TheWatchman, which ceased publication after only three issues. In 1910, at the age of 23, Marcus Garvey left Jamaica for South and Central America and the West Indies, in search of better wages, and to see whether the situation in those places for black people was the same as in Jamaica. It was worse. Garvey returned to Jamaica near the end of 1911, but soon after he left for Europe to see what was going on with black people there. While living in London, Garvey toured several countries in Europe in 1913 and witnessed the poor treatment of black workers in all these countries. He also heard about the hardship facing black people in the USA. Garvey became agitated, and perhaps saw himself as the one to take black people out of their sorry circumstances. He decided to leave England. On June 17, 1914, he boarded the SS Trentat Southampton to Jamaica. In his cabin, Garvey thought long and hard, and came up with the idea of establishing the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities (Imperial) League (UNIA/ACL). Within five days of his July 15, 1914 arrival in Jamaica, Garvey formed the UNIA/ACL, in association with Enos J. Sloly and about four others, with the main purpose of uniting all Africans worldwide to establish a country and government of their own. The UNIA/ACL was launched fittingly on Emancipation Day, August 1, 1914, in Kingston. Yet, he was to face bitter opposition from every stratum of the Jamaican society. Garvey visited the US in March 1916. It was a decision that was to propel the UNIA as the biggest and greatest pan-African movement in the world. Its members and branches proliferated, likewise the opposition towards him. In the zeal for independence and self-reliance among black people, Garvey and the UNIA establishedmany affiliates and businesses. Some of them were The Watchman and The Negro World newspapers, Liberty Hall, the Black Cross Nurses, the African Legion, the African Motor Corps, The Juveniles, the Negro Factories Corporation, the Universal Steam Laundry (including the Universal Tailoring and Dressmaking Department at 62 West 142nd St, New York), three grocery stores, a printing press, a doll factory, a hotel and two restaurants in Harlem, the Black Cross Navigation and Trading company, and the Black Star Line Shipping Company. By 1922, the UNIA had 900 branches with an approximate membership of six millions. The more the UNIA expanded, the more the United States authorities put Garvey under scrutiny. There was also much opposition from within the UNIA. In January 1922, Garvey was arrested and charged with mail fraud. He was convicted in June 1923 and sentenced to five years in prison. On December 2, 1925, Garvey was deported to Jamaica, where the opposition and sentiments against himwere still strong. He left Jamaica for England in March 1935, vowing never to return. On June 10, 1940, he died a broken man. Despite his controversial conviction, deportation and painful death in England, Garvey’s UNIA/ACL, created to better the lot of black people, is still up and running in many parts of the world with its message of self-reliance. St Ann, then, can be credited for producing the man whose campaign for, and message of, personal independence predated Jamaica’s political Independence in 1962. Of St Ann, Marcus Garvey and Independence This plaque speaks for itself. From his birthplace at 32 Market Street in St Ann’s Bay, National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey evolved to establish the greatest pan-African movement in the world. This spot at 32 Market Street in St Ann’s Bay is adorned with the colours of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which Marcus Garvey established in Jamaica in 1914 immediately after returning from a trip to Europe. FILE PHOTOS jamaica at JAMAICA AT 60: ST ANN