Jamaica’s National Heroes
Jamaica’s National Heroes dared to challenge the institution of colonialism and in so doing changed the course of Jamaica’s history giving social and political freedom to its people. Today, the statues of Jamaica’s seven National Heroes stand in proud acknowledgment, in the National Heroes Park in Kingston where they are viewed with inspiring pride, unforgettable symbols of Jamaica’s enduring strength.
Queen Nanny 1685 – 1755
Nanny of the Maroons stands out in history as the only female among Jamaica’s national heroes. She possessed that fierce fighting spirit generally associated with the courage of men. In fact, Nanny is described as a fearless Asante warrior who used militarist techniques to foul and beguile the English. Like the heroes of the pre Independence era, Nanny too met her untimely death at the instigation of the English sometime around 1734. Yet, the spirit of Nanny of the Maroons remains today as a symbol of that domitable desire that will never yield to captivity
Queen Nanny or Nanny, Jamaican National Hero, was a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the eighteenth century. Much of what is known about Nanny comes from oral history as little textual evidence exists. However, historical documents refer to her as the “rebels old obeah woman,” and they legally grant “Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs . . . a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland . . .” (quoted in Campbell 177, 175). Nanny Town was founded on this land.
SAMUEL SHARPE 1801 – 1832
‘Daddy’ Sam Sharpe, as he was affectionately called was to carry on the Resistance against slavery effecting at the young age of 31, the most outstanding Slave Rebellion in Jamaica’s history. Sharpe, an educated town slave, was a preacher and spokesman. Intelligent and sharp, he followed the developments of the abolition movement by reading discarded local and foreign papers and was able to advise his followers. Sharpe was tired of slavery, spent months in strategic planning, educating the slaves and traveling from estate to estate in secret meetings at nights, igniting the slaves with inspiring messages of hope of freedom. The 1831 Christmas Rebellion started in St. James and spread throughout the entire island. The Rebellion started on December 28 and lasted 8 days. Sam Sharpe was eventually captured and hung at the Parade in Montego Bay (now renamed Sam Sharpe Square). On August 28, 1833 slavery was abolished and the System of Apprenticeship instituted, allowing for the total freedom of slaves in the next 4-6 years. On August 1, 1938 the Apprenticeship System ended granting full freedom to the slaves
PAUL BOGLE birth date uncertain – died 1865
Paul Bogle, a Baptist Deacon was generally regarded as a peaceful man who shunned violence. He believed in the teachings of the Bible, endorsing the principles of charity and endurance. Yet he was also a leader and organizer who knew well the terrains of the land and had spent time in educating and training his followers. He lived in St. Thomas and led the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865.
GEORGE WILLIAM GORDON 1820 – 1865
George William Gordon was a free colored land owner and an associate of Bogle. As a member of the House of Parliament, he used his position to highlight the sufferings of the people and to make a plea for changes. The Morant Bay Rebellion and the resultant deaths of Bogle and Gordon precipitated the beginning of a new era in Jamaica’s development. The British government became compelled to make changes including outstanding reforms in education, health, local government, banking and infrastructure
Marcus Mosiah Garvey stands out in history as one who was greatly committed to the concept of the Emancipation of minds. Garvey who was born in St. Ann became famous worldwide as a leader who was courageous and eloquent in his call for improvement for Blacks. He sought the unification of all Blacks through the establishment of the United Negro Improvement Association and spoke out against economic exploitation and cultural denigration. He spent many years in the United States pursuing his goal of Black Unification