Journalist, author and historian, Ewart Walters, has successfully launched his latest book, We Come From Jamaica: The National Movement 1937-1962, in Jamaica.
The book was launched recently at a symposium at the University of the West Indies, which also featured Freedom’s Children, Professor Colin Palmer’s book focusing on the 1938 uprisings in Jamaica.
Walters was invited to the symposium by Professor Brian Meeks, Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), who was impressed with his book, which he described as “an important work”.
“It was the perfect setting for the launch of my book,” said Walters. “Not only was it an academic environment but in its very name, SALISES incorporates the social aspect which is often excluded these days as governments focus exclusively on economic development. We Come From Jamaica highlights the work of Norman Manley and others through organizations like Jamaica Welfare and co-operatives that sought economic development through social development.”
Much of the story of Jamaica between 1937 and Independence from Britain has been mired in legend rather than history. In defining the National Movement, Walters’ book sets out to rectify that. It is supported and corroborated in many aspects by Freedom’s Children.
“This is the first time we were having two books at the same symposium,” said Meeks. “But they are so closely complimentary that it seemed a good thing to do.”
We Come From Jamaica had earlier been cited by prize-winning author, Rachel Manley, as required reading for high schools in Jamaica and Canada. Walters’ writing has been lauded by University of Toronto Professor Emeritus Keith Ellis, who compared him to Cuban writers Jose Marti, Nicolas Guillen, and Nicaraguan writer Ruben Dario – important figures in Latin American literature who excelled as essayists.
Panelists for the symposium chaired by UWI CARIMAC lecturer, Claude Robinson, were Bishop Howard Gregory, former Ambassador Anthony Johnson and former Education Minister, Maxine Henry-Wilson.
Responding to the panel, Walters said the National Movement was not simply lore but an island-wide movement founded in enthusiasm and unity as people boldly went about setting the foundations for the new Jamaica.
He highlighted the work of its founder, Osmond Theodore Fairclough, whose son Richard was in the audience; Norman Manley, the barrister turned politician, and his artist wife, the national inspirer; as well as that of several men and women who played prominent roles in the Movement.
The panelists for the second book were Professor Franklyn Knight, historian Arnold Bertram and columnist Martin Henry. The chair was Professor Rupert Lewis.
Taking the opportunity of the Jamaica visit to pay a courtesy call on Opposition Leader Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labour Party, Walters presented him with a signed copy of his book. Holness, who had sought and received a copy of the book in advance of the presentation, said that he had not yet really read it but was nevertheless able to see that it was deeply researched.
Holness was one of three former JLP Prime Ministers who had reacted negatively to a sensational news story about the book in the Jamaica Observer at the beginning of March, a time before the book was published.
Walters’ previous books are To Follow Right – A Journalist’s Journey, Sugar Boy – The story of Cedric Titus and Jamaican Cane Farmers. They are all available at book stores and pharmacies in Jamaica and at A Different Booklist, located at 746 Bathurst St. Efforts are being made to have the book also available on Amazon in time for Christmas.