Lesson video

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Hello, welcome back.

I am at Ms Apps.

And I am teaching you over the next two lessons, we've already done two, about 'decolonization'.

So, the process of 'decolonization' across the British Empire in the 20th century.

And I already feel really, really guilty because in only having four lessons I've had to select very few places to look at.

And I'm thinking about the Nigerian friends that I grew up with you, would probably be quite upset that haven't chosen Nigeria.

I'm thinking about my family and then being except that I only spend one lesson on Ireland.

And I'm thinking about the fact that I actually also have family connections to Barbados, but I've chosen to do Jamaica today.

So, 'decolonization' is so complex, I've actually had to really simplify the story.

And so I haven't been able to cover absolutely everything.

But I hope you feel like you are gaining a good understanding of 'decolonization' in the areas that we are looking at.

So, Ireland, Ghana and in today's lesson Jamaica.

So, we're going to get started now.

So what I would like you to do, is grab a pen and grab some paper, and let's begin.

You've grabbed your pen, you've grabbed your paper, and now we are ready to get started.

So over these four lessons, we will be investigating who decolonized in the 20th century.

And in our investigation of Ireland, and in our investigation of Ghana, we've come to understand the importance of nationalism and nationalist figures in the process of independence and 'decolonization'.

In today's lesson, we are going to focus in on the process of independence and 'decolonization' in Jamaica, in the Caribbean.

So what I would like you to do is write down your title, which is who 'decolonized' in Jamaica.

Pause on the video now if you need to, and get that done.

Okay, well done.

You've got your title written down.

You're a superstar.

Let's begin.

So in front of you, I have two photographs from the island of Jamaica.

What I would like you to do, as always Miss Apps tradition, is write down what you think is going on in these images.

What can you see, what might be happening? Put a pause on the video now and have a go.

Okay, so what did you pick up from these two images? Let's go over what I might have picked out.

So firstly, I probably would have picked out the fact that in one photo, you can definitely see some sort of factory, industrial equipment machinery.

You might also have written down that you can see workers in a field, you can see their little dog as well, and they seem to be harvesting a crop.

Now because this is Jamaica.

This is sugarcane.

So these are sugar cane workers and what you can see is an industrial, a big factory of a sugar refinery.

So the sugar cane goes into the refinery.

And obviously sugar if you have studied the transatlantic slave trade have been a significant part of the Jamaican economy all the way back to the 17th century.

By the 20th century when we see the beginnings of the 'decolonization' process in Jamaica, sugar work is really really poorly paid.

And most of the profit from it is still extracted and goes back to Britain or to other big companies that control the sugar refineries.

And there is a particularly large sugar refinery at the Frome Estates or Frome.

I always get that wrong my friends from Somerset and there is a place called Frome or Frome in Somerset.

I do apologise if you're watching this in the West Country.

And at that particular sugar estate, there was a massive factory that employs quite a few people, but the wages were really really poorly paid.

And so it's the rights of workers and the right of workers particularly in the sugar industry, that will be one of the sort of spiring moments, the thing that spurs on and nationalist movement in Jamaica.

And so as we remember, we are looking at 'decolonization'.

And 'decolonization' is the process of releasing an area from the status of being colony to allow it eventually to become self governing and independent.

And as we remember, as all historians tell us that this is a really, really complex process.

The process of undoing colonisation does not happen in the same way, in the same places, or at the same time.

And so, for example, some of the dominions like Canada, have been given an aspect of self governance, but that was given a lot lot earlier than perhaps say in Africa, in Ghana, where independence was given in the 1950s.

In the same way, when we look to Ireland, whilst in Ghana and Ireland nationalism was really important, in Ireland a much earlier case of independence, violence was really important for achieving independence from Britain.

And even then it wasn't complete independence because the Ireland was partitioned.

So this is a complex process.

And it's also a controversial phrase.

'Decolonization' makes it sound as if this was a process that was given, that was given freely.

But actually, it takes a lot more than just the British deciding to allow their different areas of the Empire independence.

So in today's lesson, we will look at Jamaica.

And as I've said, already, the sugar industry in Jamaica and poor wages in the sugar industry is really important to developing a sense of labour rights on the island.

And that goes hand in hand with nationalism as well.

And so we will see the importance of industrial action so strikes in the sugar industry to Jamaican eventual independence in today's lesson.

But first, let's just have a whistle-stop tour of the history of Jamaica.

And I'm really going to struggle not to walk forward because when I was at university, 17th century Barbados and Jamaica were one of my favourite bits of history to write about.

So I'm going to try and get through this as quickly as possible.

So Jamaica, an island in the Caribbean Sea, became an official colony of the British in the 1670s.

However, before then it had been controlled by the Spanish and actually during the time of Oliver Cromwell, so during the Civil War, the English had taken the island in the 1650s as part of the movement West Dakota.

And from the 1650s, 1660s onwards, the British began to experiment with enslavement on the island.

There was already, if you are of Jamaican heritage, you will know this.

There was already a population of slaves who had fled the Spanish who lived on the island, even the English arrived and they were known as the Maroons.

And they particularly clustered in the Blue Mountains where they have three towns and there was a key leader of the Maroons who at later on, called Nanny the Maroons.

He was actually a Jamaican national hero to this day.

And so the island of Jamaica became really central to the early British Empire.

And it was central to the British Empire for a very, very long time.

Because the English extracted an awful lot of wealth through enslaved labour in the sugar industry, but also in the growing of things like indigo and rice, etc.

And on the island of Jamaica, there was an extremely harsh racial regime.

And what I mean by that is, once slavery was instituted on the island, there were some poorer white workers working on the plantations alongside enslaved African people.

And this was a problem because when the poor white English or Irish or Scottish colonists working on those types of plantations got upset in the early years, they would often spark rebellions, alongside the enslaved African people on the island.

And so very quickly, the rulers of the island realised that they needed to divide the island by race.

Divide and conquer.

And so extremely harsh laws were instituted on the island which separated punishments for white people from punishments for black enslaved people, and also made slavery an inheritable thing.

So if your mother was African and African enslaved woman, and she gave birth to a child, that child automatically became a slave.

So the island has an extremely racist society.

This came to a end with abolition.

So slavery on the island lasted for nearly 200 years if I'm doing my math correctly.

At least over 150 years.

And technically abolition occurred in Britain in 1807.

So slavery was made illegal in the British Isles.

However, the British did not immediately transport that particular law to the whole of their empire.

And so in Jamaica, People were hearing, enslaved people were hearing that slavery had been abolished, but yet they were still slaves.

And so in the 1830s, across the island an uprising began.

And the uprising was begun by a man called Sam Sharpe and it's known by a variety of titles.

It's known as the Baptist War.

It's known as Sam Sharpe Rebellion.

It's known as the Great Rebellion, or the Great Uprising, and it's known as the Christmas Day Uprising as well.

But in this particular event, enslaved people rose up against the white people of Jamaica, and burn some estates as protests for the continuation of slavery.

This forced the British hands, and eventually slavery was abolished in 1833 and 1834.

However, even technically, though they've been granted their freedom, the people of Jamaica were forced to work for free for their masters in a period known as apprenticeship.

So essentially, despite the fact they'd been made free, there wasn't really freedom.

And despite freedom after the 1830s, for most ordinary Jamaicans life is still pretty hard on the island.

Work in the sugar trade, in the sugar industry, is really, really low paid.

And this continues pretty much into the 19th century.

But let's put a pause on this lesson here and just go over what we've learned so far.

So 'decolonization' is? Right down number one in your margin, is it option one; the process of building an empire? Option two, the process of granting colonies independence from Empire? Option three, the process of assessing whether you should have an empire? Or option four, the process of taking new colonies to add to your empire? What did you think it was? It was of course, option two; the process of granting colonies independence from Empire.

'Decolonization' was? Finish my sentence.

Was it option one; complex, changing from colony to colony? I always say Connelly instead of colony.

So complex changing from colony to colony.

Option two; easy, happened with ease in the different colonies.

Option three; uniform, the same process happens in each colony.

Or option four; non violent, there was no violence involved in the process anywhere.

What was it? Was it option one, two, three or four? It was of course option one; complex, changing from colony to colony.

I'm really going to be paranoid about saying that wrong now.

Okay, coming now to Jamaican history.

So Jamaica's economy before the 19th century relies on what? Did it rely on option one; enslaved workers.

Option two; English workers.

Option three; free workers.

Or option four; Irish workers.

Which option was it? It was option one; enslaved workers.

So the economy of Jamaica, the sugar industry, everything relied on the work of enslaved people imported, taken/stolen from Africa.

So moving on, so Jamaica was a slave economy.

It was a society, a slave society, we call it.

It was a society which relies upon the work of enslaved people to function.

When abolition was achieved on the island in the 19th century, the island remained part of the British Empire.

However, abolition and the loss of slavery to the wealthy plantation owners, the people that ran the Sugar Estates, ruin them.

And so as a consequence of this, lots of the plantations disappeared or went bust essentially.

And so what happened was the economy of Jamaica was quite negatively affected.

And so for ordinary Jamaicans who've experienced slavery and are now free, actually, finding work was really really difficult.

The economy on the island wasn't necessarily the best.

It did develop.

In the 20th century gets slightly better, in particular with the growing popularity of the banana.

However, World War I and World War II impacted the exports of Jamaican goods like sugar and bananas.

So the economy always struggled somewhat.

And so there was quite high unemployment.

And a bit like Ghana, there was high unemployment on the island.

Despite the fact that these people of Jamaica had been involved in the fighting for the British Empire in World War I and World War II as part of the British West Indies regiment.

And so when we get into the 20th century, we see particularly in the 1930s, a wave of strikes and protests.

And the most important year for this is 1938 when the consciousness of Jamaican workers is really, really expanded, and we see a rising trade unionists movements.

We see a rising campaign, trade unions campaign, for the rights of workers to earn better wages, to have a better lifestyle, to have better working conditions.

1938, there was an explosion of trade unionists movements.

And in 1938, in this same year, the People's National Party is established.

And this particular political party wishes to gain independence for Jamaica and for Jamaicans.

Within five years, as well, the Jamaica Labour Party is established by a man called Alexander Bustamante, who was himself a key trade unionist.

So the island of Jamaica in the 20th century is part of the British Empire, there's high unemployment, and we start to see strikes and protests for workers rights.

Right, let's put a pause on it and check that we understand our key words.

So I would like you to touch the correct box.

So nationalists are supportive of the rights of? The people of their country or the Empire.

Put your finger on the correct box.

It is the people of their country.

Number two: The main Jamaican political parties after the 1930s were? The Jamaican Labour Party and the People's Nationalist Party, or sorry, the People's National Party, or the Jamaican Labour Party and the People's Independence Party.

Put your finger on the correct box.

Okay, it was the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party.

It's really important to get these two parties in our head, because it's these two parties that work really well to gain independence for the island of Jamaica.

And these are still today, the two main political parties on the island of Jamaica.

So we're now going to look at the impact that this lack of employment on the island had upon the awakening of Jamaican consciousness, the awakening of Jamaican politics with regards to nationalism, who was involved in the nationalist processes.

So I'd like to pause the video, read the slides on the next page and answer the comprehension questions about Jamaican independence.

Resume the video once you're finished, and I will meet you at our answers.

Okay, so how did we do? I'm going to go through the answers now on the next slide.

Remember, as we go through model answers, if you haven't written what I have, that's absolutely fine as long as you've gotten the general gist.

So let's go through question number one.

So what were the aims of Garvey's UNIA? Well, an acceptable answer would have been: The aims of the UNIA were to achieve rights for black people.

A really, really good answer there would have been: The aims of the UNIA were to develop black pride, independence and economic success around the world.

And Garvey is such a significant figure.

He crops up in different independence movements.

He will also.

If you get a little bit older and you study history at GCSE as well, you will also see if you look at the civil rights movement, his impacts there as well, in America.

Question two: What was life like for ordinary Jamaicans in the 1930s? An acceptable answer would have been: Life was hard for ordinary Jamaicans in the 1930s.

However, a really good answer would have been: In the 1930s life was difficult for ordinary Jamaicans.

Poverty and unemployment was high.

Waves of strikes occurred across the island in 1938.

Question three: What issues did Alexander Bustamante begin his political career campaigning for? An acceptable answer would have been: Bustamante campaigned for workers' rights.

He set up his own trade unions.

A really good answer there would have been: Bustamante as a trade unionist, that should say 'not a trade unionist', campaign for workers rights such as better wages.

You might also have mentioned the fact that he was actually imprisoned for his work as well.

Four: What party was Norman Manley Senior, because he had a son of the same name, leader of and what were its aims? An acceptable answer would have been: Manley led the PNPs, People's National Party, which wanted independence.

A really good answer there would have been: Manley became the leader of the People's National Party, a nationalist group who wanted to achieve greater independence.

Five: Challenge: Why was Manley's experience as a lawyer so important to Jamaican independence? An acceptable answer would have been: He was able to work within the law to change the laws to make Jamaica more independent.

So he was able to change laws.

But really good answer would have been: Manley's legal experience allowed him to work within the law to slowly achieve greater independence for the island.

Well done for getting this far in the inquiry.

Well done for answering those comprehension questions.

So, in July 1962, the British Parliament passed the Jamaican Independence Act, and Jamaican Independence was made official on the sixth of August 1962, when all across the island the British flag was lowered and was replaced with the new national Jamaican flag, which I'm sure you're really, really familiar with.

To this day, Jamaican Independence Day is a really, really big thing, both in Jamaica itself, but also all around the world, for people of Jamaican descent, and particularly in my area that I live in of South London as well.

So, well done for getting this far.

Let's now have a go our extension question.

So if we think back to the process of independence in Ireland, there was quite a strong aspects of violence in there.

When we think about Ghana, we had the 1948 Accra riots, which resulted from the shooting of unarmed military veterans in Ghana, in 1948.

So there's an aspect of violence there too.

However, when we look at Jamaica, was Jamaica our most peaceful process? Oh, gosh! I can't speak today.

So let's have a go at answering this question.

Can we say gaining independence in Jamaica was a peaceful process? What I would like you to do, is answer this question and think about how the law was used.

Think about strikes, though, think about imprisonment.

And think about the fact that this independence was actually granted by parliamentary law.

Put a pause on the video now and have a go at answering that question.

Okay, so, in terms of a model answer, what would I have written? So can we say gaining independence in Jamaica was a peaceful process? I would say this: In comparison to other 'decolonization' processes, Jamaica's was largely more peaceful.

Independence was granted through law and an act in the British Parliament.

However, we cannot forget the strikes were needed in the 1930s to further the rights of ordinary people on the island, and that the first prime minister of the island, Alexander Bustamante had been imprisoned by the British in the 1930s and the 1940s.

So whilst it is largely more peaceful, we still have the same thing that we've seen in Ghana as well of a nationalist leader or in this case, a pro labour rights leader being imprisoned by the British authorities.

Well done on all your hard work today.

We're so close to the end of this inquiry, and I'm really, really proud that you've gone on this journey with me into this quite complex piece of history.

I'd love for you to share your work with Oak National.

So if you'd like to, please ask your parent or carer to share your work on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter by tagging @OakNational and #LearnwithOak.

You've been absolutely brilliant.

I've been Ms apps.