'We used to travel on mule carts and donkeys'

Monday, August 07, 2017

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“It was fantastic.”

That is how Lance Neita, a St Ann native, described 1962 —the year Jamaica gained Independence.

“Everybody was aware that we were having this transition,” Neita recalled while speaking to the Jamaica Observer North & East, last week.

Fifty-five years later he still feels the “pride and joy” Jamaicans felt when the nation shed its colonial cloak to join the ranks of independent nations.

He recalled that there was huge anticipation before Independence due to a wide-spread campaign in the media and to word of mouth about the changes to come.

“Every little village had lighting at nights and the music on the radio was also fabulous. Not even the Grand Gala can beat the celebrations then. The first few years were the best. I felt the feeling of the newness; the black, green, and gold was everywhere,” he said.

But according to him, while Jamaica celebrates its independence annually, he believes that it has lost significance among younger people over the years.

“The younger people still do not understand what independence is, so there is no emotion and joy that would have been associated in 1962,” he explained.

Joseph Wellington, from Islington, St Mary, shared the same sentiments.

Although he was only a young boy when Jamaica gained independence, he said he still recalls the sense of joy that people around him expressed.

“I remember my aunt going to the square and returning with her independence cup,” he told North & East.

He said at that time, Jamaicans recognised the constraints and what their foreparents endured as slaves, and as a result celebrated Independence with more passion.

“Many young people don't grasp it,” he said, stating that there should be a greater push towards educating them in this regard.

Ninety-three-year-old Phyllis Green believes that Jamaica has much to celebrate, pointing to what she describes as significant changes that have occurred over the years.

“We used to travel on mule carts and donkeys. We used to have to walk to school,” she said, noting that the country's mode of transportation has improved significantly.

She also pointed out that the majority of Jamaicans had to use pit latrines in the past.

“We used to use pit latrines and we used to use kerosene lamp; we never know about electricity. We used to use wood fire,” Green said while reflecting.

“We never had washing easy as we do now. We used to go to the river to wash with our tub on our heads and walk back with the clothes. Jamaica is much, much better now,” she said.




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