A new book on Jamaica by journalist and author Ewart Walters was launched in Ottawa on Friday March 14 before an appreciative gathering. Trinidadian Vince Wilson, professor emeritus of Carleton University, was the guest speaker. A lively question-and-answer period followed readings by the author.
A launch is being planned for Toronto around the end of April.
We Come From Jamaica: The National Movement 1937-1962, has already stirred controversy in Jamaica based on a newspaper story, even though no one there has yet seen or read it. Requests for copies and interviews are streaming in.
“The book filled out many gaps in my understanding,” Walters says, “and I am sure many readers will come to the same conclusion.”
All of 10 years in the making, the book charts the course of the National Movement, a period and group of people who were instrumental in propelling Jamaica out of slavery and “apprenticeship” to nationhood and Independence between 1937 and 1962. It captures the spirit of volunteerism that supported and carried the movement until it dissipated around the time of Independence – when, indeed, one of its main goals was achieved.
It hails the unheralded Osmond Theodore Fairclough as the first hero of the movement, deals with the contributions of people such as Marcus Garvey and William Alexander Bustamante, before sketching profiles of people such as Norman Manley, Edna Manley, Thom Girvan, Una Marson, Mary Morris-Knibb, Bishop Percival Gibson, A. Wesley Powell of XLCR fame, Cedric Titus, Eddie Burke, Louise Bennett-Coverley, Dr. Thomas Lecky, George Headley, Herb McKenley and Amy Bailey who established the Housecraft Training Centre.
We Come From Jamaica also records the people from other lands who enriched the Jamaican mosaic and, in particular, contains a very informative and interesting section on the Chinese.
It speaks too of the way the people used music to express their feelings about national matters, introduces the roles of culture, education, the church, Revival, Rastafari, 4-H clubs, the co-operative movement, and youth training camps such as Cobbla.
By pure happenstance, Walters, who this year marks 52 years in journalism, found himself in the very cradle of the National Movement when he entered journalism at the Public Opinion newspaper in 1962.
Walters was honoured by his native Jamaica in 2010 with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, for his promotion and defence of Visible Minorities in Canada, through his journalism.