Every kindergarten, primary and secondary school pickney know Jamaica’s national emblems by heart. All parish libraries have a special section either on their display boards or somewhere centrally located in the libraries to display the national emblems. Do you know them by heart? Here’s a refresher:
The National Flag
The Coat of Arms
The National Bird – the Doctor Bird or Swallow-Tail Humming Bird
The National Tree – the Blue Mahoe
The National Flower – the Lignum Vitae
The National Fruit – the Ackee
But do people know the story behind our national emblems and the process that went into choosing them? How did the Blue Mahoe become the Jamaican National Tree? What was the process behind choosing the Lignum Vitae as the Jamaican National Flower? Then there is the Ackee – by the way, ackee and saltfish is a perfect meal if there ever was one! – why was this fruit chosen as Jamaica’s National Fruit?
Jamaican Echoes wont go into great details about each symbol as this is covered quite well by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). Instead, let’s take a documentary tour of the process behind choosing the national symbols that is now synonymous with independent Jamaica.
Ministry Paper No. 20 – National Emblems
The story of the national process to choosing Jamaica’s National emblems is documented in detail in Ministry Paper No. 20. Ministry Papers are Government of Jamaica policy papers on any issue of national importance. Ministry Paper No. 20 speaks specifically to the subject of Jamaica’s national emblems and the processes that went into their choosing. The Paper was presented to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 28, 1962, by the Premier the Hon. Norman Manley. It begins thus (click on the image for an enlarged view of the text):
The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) features the full text of Ministry Paper No. 20, which was also published in the Friday, March 30, 1962 edition of the Daily Gleaner. It makes quite interesting reading into the history of Jamaica’s national emblems.
Until next time…
Jamaica Information Service (JIS) National Symbols
N.W. Manley, Premier and Minister of Development, Ministry Paper No. 20 National Emblems, 28th March 1962