|HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE|
In February 1962, a new constitution was approved by the Legislation and the Premier Norman Manley called General Elections.
Jamaica becoming an independent nation now meant that Britain, no longer controlled the affairs of the country. It was now the responsibility of the newly elected Prime Minister and the locally elected Cabinet.
Independence also meant that a constitution, symbols, emblems, an army, Jamaican currency and passports had to be developed for the country.The most significant event of the celebrations took place at the newly built National Stadium at midnight on 5 August when the Union Jack, symbol of British rule for 307 years, was lowered and replaced by the black, green and gold flag of Jamaica.
As an Independent nation, Jamaica assigns Ambassadors overseas who represent the country. They sign treaties on behalf of Jamaica and become members of various international organisations. This is important as it gives Jamaica equal rights on various issues relating to international trade, policies and treaties.
Although some had feared this day would bring unrest and violence, the events of Independence went smoothly and well, with celebrations held in the bars of Gold Street - a popular working class hangout - as well as in the reception rooms of King's House.
Independence Day was at first celebrated on the first Monday in August each year, but with the re-introduction of Emancipation Day (1 August) the holiday has been fixed as 6 August.
In October, during National Heritage week (third Monday in October), we also honour our six national heroes and one heroine, in recognition of their contribution to the birth of our nation.
Our National Symbols are representative of our rich history and culture. They define us as a people – Jamaicans who are proud of where we are coming from.
The following National Symbols were adopted at the time of Jamaica’s Independence .6 August 1962.
The Flag brings to mind memories of past achievements and gives inspiration towards further success. It is flown on many triumphant occasions, showing the pride that Jamaicans have in their country and in the flag itself.
· The flag should never be smaller than any other flag flown at the same time.
· When the flag becomes worn and must be replaced, burn it.
· Do not place any other flag above or to the right of the Jamaican flag, except at foreign embassies, consulates and missions.
· Do not raise any foreign flag publicly, unless the Jamaican flag is also flown, except at foreign embassies, consulates and missions.
· The flag shouldn’t be draped over vehicles, except on military, police and state occasions.
The Jamaican Coat of Arms
Although the ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica, it has remarkable historic associations. Originally, it was imported to the island from West Africa, probably on a slave ship. Now it grows here luxuriantly, producing large quantities of edible fruit each year.
The plant is extremely ornamental, producing an attractive blue flower and orange-yellow fruit, while its crown has an attractive rounded shape. The tree is one of the most useful in the world. The body, gum, bark, fruit, leaves and blossom all serve some useful purpose. In fact, the tree has been regarded for its medicinal properties. A gum (gum guaiac) obtained from its resin was once regarded as a purgative. It was exported to Europe from the early sixteenth century as a remedy (combined with mercury) for syphillis and has also been used as a remedy for gout.
The wood was once used as propeller shaft bearings in nearly all the ships sailing the ‘Seven Seas’. Because of this, Lignum Vitae and Jamaica are closely associated in shipyards worldwide. It is a very heavy wood which will sink in water. Because of its toughness it is used for items such as mortars, mallets, pulleys and batons carried by policemen. Sometimes it is used for furniture.
The tree is quite attractive with its straight trunk, broad green leaves and hibiscus-like flowers. The attractive flower changes colour as it matures, going from bright yellow to orange red and finally to crimson.
The name mahoe is derived from a Carib Indian word. The ‘blue’refers to blue-green streaks in the polished wood, giving it a distinctive appearance.
The Blue Mahoe is so beautiful and durable that it is widely used for cabinet making and also for making decorative objects such as picture frames, bowls and carving.
The inner bark of the tree is often referred to as Cuba bark because it was formerly used for tying bundles of Havana cigars. Cuba is the only other place where the Blue Mahoe grows naturally.
The origin of the name ‘Docor-bird’ is somewhat unsettled. It has been said that the name was given because the erect black crest and tails resemble the top hat and long tail coats doctors used to wear in the old days. Other schools of thought believe that it refers to the way the birds lance the flowers with their bills to extract nectar.
According to Frederic Cassidy the bird is an object of superstition. The Arawaks spread the belief that the bird had magical powers. They called it the ‘God bird’, believing it was the reincarnation of dead souls. This is manifested in a folk song which says: “Doctor Bud a cunny bud, hard bud fe dead”. (It is a clever bird which cannot be easily killed).
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