The International Farmer: Peter Broggs


Photo of Peter Broggs

 

Jamaica-The Land Of Wood And Water

Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles situated in the Caribbean Sea. It has been named as the island Xaymaca, implying the "Land of Wood and Water", or the "Land of Springs", by its indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno inhabitants.

In 1655 Jamaica belonged to Spain and was called Santiago. Then, it became an English possession, and later a British, colony, known as "Jamaica". Jamaica is a proud country that boasts of its unique history, spectacular landscape and prominent culture.

After the Spanish subjugated the peaceful Arawaks (an Amerindian group) in the early 16th century, Jamaica has carried on a painful history tinged with a hint of violence. Yet, it is also the story of epic resistance to tyranny and a zeal for freedom. It's this passion, and the resolve of the Jamaican people that has made this island and its inimitable culture so crucial.

Jamaica's original inhabitants were the Arawaks, also called Tainos. The peace of the Arawaks was destroyed by the Spaniards years after Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1494. On May 10, 1655 the English conquered Jamaica after the Spaniards yielded to them. It was this set of slaves and their descendants who were called as Maroons.

As slave trade grew into a profitable venture and slaves became unhappier with their status they rebelled against the English. In the year 1740 a treaty was signed with the British stating that they were given the land as well as the rights as free men and in return they were to stop combating and help recapture runaway slaves.

Naturally this was not agreeable for Maroons and so on January 1, 1808 the Abolition Bill was passed for which trading African slaves was abolished and declared to be unlawful. However, full freedom was granted only in 1838. On August 6, 1962, Jamaica became an independent country. With its own constitution, it has its set laws.

Jamaica's modern history has been exemplified by a political seesaw between the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP). The principles of these two parties have undergone a change over a period of time.

Jamaican culture symbolizes a rich blend of cultures that represents various ethnicities. The original Taino Settlers, the Spanish Conquerors and British rulers impacted on the culture of Jamaica. Conversely, the blacks and slaves formed the dominant cultural force as they endured the harsh conditions of forced labor. Post the abolition of slavery, Chinese and Indian migrants were deported to the island as indentured workers. And, this ushered in hints of culture from the Far East.

In Jamaica, people of all ethnic backgrounds are comfortable with their racial differences because they are aware that it this part that makes their culture so unique. The official national language of Jamaica is English, greatly spiced with local idioms. The primary local language of the island is patois, or Jamaican Creole.

Right from reggae music to cooking, language to folklore, the Jamaican Island has so much to offer visitors. Once you have been there, you will never forget the lasting experience of Jamaica's pleasure.

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