Out of many, one people

The motto: “Out of many one people,” is reflective of a rich history encompassing people with varied ethnicities, origins and religious backgrounds that call themselves Jamaican.

In honour of Jamaica’s 47th anniversary of Independence from British rule, The Sunday Observer set out to speak to an array of Jamaicans living in Cayman, to retrace their memories of independence and find out exactly what the occasion signifies to them.

Margaret Ramsay-Hale
Chief Magistrate

“Independence for me as a child of the 70s was more than just freedom from colonialism. Due to the music of Bob Marley, Burning Spear and many others, our independence also represented emancipation from every aspect of mental slavery.

“We used to have many festivities and street parties, but independence wasn’t just about drinking and partying. In the 70s it was also a time when Michael Manley widened social consciousness allowing blacks to understand that they could aspire to do great things.”

Derrick Vermont
PR representative

Sovereignty, power, change, influence, willpower and strong-minded ability are the words that roll off of Derrick Vermont’s tongue when asked about Jamaica’s Independence.

As a child in Jamaica he recalls numerous festivities that took place annually in recognition of the day. “It was a celebration of pride; belief in one’s self and country,” he says.

Noting he will probably be hard at work on the actual day of independence, he adds, “I will probably be wearing my yellow shirt though. And definitely will be out celebrating on Friday in town.”

Skeeter Robinson
Police Officer

“For us it is a celebration of no longer being dependent on Britain.

“In my school days as a Brownie and Girl Guide we would Maypole dance, recite Miss Lou poems and do dramatic pieces. As an adult street dances in celebration of the day became the big thing.

On 6  August she pointed out that she will probably be at work but will be celebrating in her heart. “My car is already decked out in Jamaican colours; I am a real patriotic Jamaican,” she says.

Antonio McKenzie

Gas Station Attendant

“Jamaica’s independence is a representation of a country being able to stand on its own.

“A lot of my friends and I will be getting together and celebrating since we can’t do it at home. For Jamaica’s independence I think my fellow countrymen need to do as much as they can even though they are away from home.”

Tarick Goring
Cayman Airways pilot

“Jamaica is a great nation, yes it comes with good and bad, but I am proud to call myself a Jamaican.

“At only 47 we are still a young independent nation that has proven ourselves in many different ways including the workforce, sports and many other facets.

“I remember in the past on Independence Day sitting down with family and listening to the older people talking about where the island was coming from and where it is going. Then a little later chilling with people my age and us all celebrating.

“This year, as I am in Cayman, I will celebrate with other Jamaicans in town.”

Syria Strachan

“We had the opportunity to be self sufficient and we did it.

“I was a teenager when we got independence, but I remember numerous festivities and other tribute items.

“I am just giving thanks for another independent year.”

Kipling Douglas
Former Magistrate

“It was the day we matured as a country, and were able to stand on our own, and we are still standing.

“We did well for the first 10 years and then politicians messed things up. But we are good people and have a lot to be proud of. Because whatever we do, whether it is good or bad …we excel at it!

“I have memories of us having a parade and going to the national stadium. What a celebration. This year I will actually be in Jamaica for the celebration.”

Robert Bodden
Local businessman

“To me that was the beginning of the end of Jamaica. Everything started going downhill for that lovely island after the inception of Independence.”

Sandra Stephens
Jamaican Independence Celebration Organiser

“Independence is a time when I go back and reflect on my country and its people. With regard to the country, its beauty and diversity. With regard to the people I think of their strength and creativity.

“When I lived in Jamaica and independence time came around we used to go to the cultural events. It was a grand gala with a lot of fashion and creativity based around our culture.

“As part of the organising team for Jamaica’s Independence celebrations we would like to ensure that it is packaged in such a way that my fellow countrymen can feel proud. We are also aiming for those who are not Jamaican to be introduced to our culture.”

George Meggs

“In my estimation Jamaica’s Independence was and still is an opportunity for Jamaicans to act with maturity while governing ourselves, using our facilities and strength to pool together to be a great nation.”

Michael Godfrey
Local Businessman

“We reached a stage where the mother country felt that we could manage ourselves.

“There used to be lots of festivities and celebrations, and there still are. A lot of Jamaicans are very passionate about independence, which many returning from all parts of the world to celebrate. Most of us remain loyal to our country regardless of where we are in the world now.”

Elaine Harris
Honorary Vice Consul

“As we mark the 47th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence, we cannot help but reflect on our journey as a small nation. There is much for which we can be proud and that includes our great achievements on the world stage.

“We recognise the challenges facing our country, yet our rich history is a testament of our strength of purpose and resolve to overcome because the indomitable spirit of our forebearers still lingers within us.

“In reflection we are reminded of the historical ties between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and we use this opportunity to celebrate our relationship, friends and families.

“I invite you all to come out in unity and fellowship and as one people to celebrate with the Jamaican diaspora in the Cayman Islands.”