My fond memories of Independence in 1962
by Beverly P. Lyons
Jamaica Independence Article/ Story Contest - Entry #18 - My fond memories of Independence in 1962
During the period leading up to independence, our teachers prepared us by telling us what it means, its context and its importance.
They taught us the national anthem, the motto—Out of Many One People, the national indigenous bird—the Doctor Bird a.k.a. the Swallow Tail Humming Bird, the national flower— the Lignum Vitae and other important facts.
We committed those facts to memory. One significant nitty-gritty was the fact that the red, white and blue Union Jack would be replaced by Jamaica’s own black, green and gold
The proposed new flag was fraught with controversy pertaining to the possible negative interpretation of
the color black. Issues pertaining to the flag heightened when it was discovered that a newly independent
African nation Tanzania had proposed a flag with similar colors and almost similar design.
There were several iterations of the black, green and gold Jamaican flag in an effort to differentiate the flag of our island nation from that of Tanzania.
Then, a new idea emerged to create a sky blue and white flag.
Some of my classmates and I were happy since our school uniform was sky blue and white. The proposed blue and white flag was declined.
Finally, Jamaican officials came to a consensus, and the new evolving Jamaican flag was born. The final version of
the flag remained black, green and gold, but included the Scottish X design.
Although this phenomenon appeared trivial then, the lessons in perseverance and liberation have served me well over time.
By the time Independence was granted for August 6th (replacing Emancipation Day holiday), I was a Girl
Guide (a.k.a. Girl Scout) and a high school student.
Indeed, I participated in almost every procession, parade
and ceremony at the National Stadium, Kingston Racecourse a.k.a. George VI Memorial Park, the Kingston
Parish Church, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, etc.
I was always exhausted daily but continued to celebrate.
The implementation of Jamaica’s first television station coincided with independence.
However, some families including mine were not yet caught up. Further, we tended to prefer in-person gatherings especially for such a momentous occasion.
My family and friends socialized at multiple events including street dances, where we busted-our-moves including the Ska, the Twist and the Bossa Nova. I was proud that a favorite meal of mine — Ackee and Salted Cod Fish was named the national dish.
My U.S.-born relatives and younger friends eat it with great delight despite the fact they are oblivious of its significance — poor people's food.
What a celebration in 1962! those days are long gone but not forgotten. I loved it then and love it now! I migrated to the U.S. in the late 1960’s and continue to enjoy Jamaica’s Independence celebrations.
Happy 60th Birthday Jamaica!
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