The Story of the Jamaican People

The last general history of Jamaica was published in 1960. Since then, the country has become an independent nation and has developed a new sense of national identity out of the experience of 450 years of European colonization, African slavery, and the transplanting of immigrant populations from India, China, Lebanon, and Syria.

The Jamaican people have never accepted what was presented to them as the history of Jamaica. The heroes of the British Empire are not their heroes, and their battlefields are in Jamaica, the Caribbean and Afro-America, wherever Afro-American freedom fighters have struggled for liberty. A new interpretation of the Jamaican experience is long overdue. In this book, Sir Philip Sherlock teams up with documentarian Dr. Hazel Bennett to tell the story of the Jamaican people from an Afro-Jamaican rather than a European perspective. Africa is at the center of the story; by claiming Africa as homeland, Jamaicans gain a sense of historical continuity, of identity, of roots — an experience they share with fifty million Afro-Americans throughout the Americas and across four centuries.

This is a book for the present generation and generations to come; for Jamaicans at home and abroad; and for all Afro-Americans who are descendants of the great diaspora.

Sir Philip Sherlock, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, is author of A Short History of the West Indies.

Hazel Bennett, Ph.D. is the former Head of the Department of Library Studies of the University of the West Indies.