Michael Manley And Rastafarianism Essay

3732 words - 15 pages

Michael Manley and Rastafarianism

Jamaica and it’s people have been involved in a constant struggle for prosperity. After gaining independence from Britain on August 6, 1962, Jamaica attempted to flourish under a democratic system of their own. The formation of the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labor Party marked the beginning of this movement. During this time of exploration, Rastafarians residing in Jamaica were faced with little political support. Government objectives and reform were generally not concerned with the plight of the Rastafarians, and they were treated as a group of vigilantes.

Michael Norman Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972-1980 and 1989-1992, was the first political figure to provide support for the large population of Rastafarians residing in Jamaica. It was under the rule of this man that reform for the people began to take place. The following paper analyzes Manley and his influence on Jamaican society.

To begin, it is important to understand some background information on Michael Norman Manley. Born to a prominent political figure, Manley attended Jamaica College in Kingston from 1935-1962. He was also in the Royal Canadian Air Force during 1939-1945. After earning a bachelor’s degree and leaving the air force, he attended the London School of Economics from 1945-1949. Hoping to explore the world, he remained in London and took a job as a journalist with the BBC. In 1952, Manley decided that he wanted to return to his homeland. Being a strong-minded individual striving for change, Manley took on the responsibility of becoming a trade union negotiator, and the president of the National Workers Union of Jamaica. He strove to provide a better life for all those who lived on Jamaica. (Encarta.msn.com)

In 1969 when his father, Norman Washington Manley passed away, Michael took over his position as leader of the PNP. Norman Manley was the original founder of the PNP, chief minister of Jamaica from 1955-1959, and prime minister from 1959-1962. With the 1972 election quickly approaching, the PNP began campaigning for Manley. It was at this time that they set two primary goals:

1. Not to rock class coalition

2. To gain support of the traditional Christian community and the Rastafarian community.

One Jamaican historian said, "The reality of the Rasta’s cannot be ignored by the politicians: their voice is the voice of the people and the success or failure of Jamaican leaders henceforth must grapple with the power of these modern day "John the Baptists" whose voices call out from the electronic wilderness." (rg pg 174) With these goals in mind, Manley began to attend rallies, and speak about promised election pledges. These pledges were critical to his campaign because they represented many hopes of the Rastafarians. Among the stated pledges were: legislation requiring parliamentarians to declare their assets publicly annually in order to counter corruption; a fixed formula for the...

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