Letters to the Editor

Walter Adolphe Roberts is true pioneer of Jamaica's Independence movement

Friday, August 31, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Winston Maragh is to be commended for his letter deploring the prime minister's misguided reference to Norman Manley as the father of Jamaica's political independence. This particular distortion of our country's history is something invented and unabashedly promoted by the PNP; but even Mr Manley never claimed this authorship for himself. In fact, he was known to have acknowledged his resistance to the idea when it was proposed to him in 1938.

I have written more than once that the true pioneer of Jamaica's Independence movement is Walter Adolphe Roberts who in September 1936 launched the Jamaica Progressive League for the sole purpose of getting self-government for Jamaica. The PNP did not accept self-government until 1939 when, at the insistence of Roberts, WG McFarlane, WA Domingo and Rev Ethelred Brown, that objective was written into the party's programme.

It is recorded that in January 1939 at a public meeting, Mr Manley warmly welcomed Adolphe Roberts who had come to Jamaica from New York to campaign for self-government. The then PNP leader made it clear that he was not the father of the self-government movement. To quote his words:

"I want to declare in the most public and ample manner possible how much I welcome his (Roberts) return to the island; and the prospect of being associated with him in the political struggles ahead... I do not claim to have originated the idea of a national Jamaica. Still less did I originate the call for self-government... I recall when Mr Roberts was last in Jamaica he did me the honour of calling on me in my chambers to discuss his ideas about self-government for Jamaica. I must be perfectly frank: a year ago I did not see it..."

Last year, I suggested that in celebrating 50 years of Independence we should acknowledge and show due respect to the originators - Roberts, Domingo and Brown. Up to now, nothing has been done. Instead we have political leaders deliberately falsifying our history and getting away with it. Has this country no shame?

Kenneth Jones






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