Category Archives: Community Groups

Jamaica’s Road to Independence – Part 1

Although archaeologists suggest the Arawakan-speaking Tainos settled Jamaica about 800 CE (Common Era), there were others before who left behind red pottery.

The Tainos named the island ‘Xaymaca’, meaning ‘land of wood and water’.  Incidentally the words ‘hurricane’, ‘tobacco’ and ‘barbecue’ were also derived from their language.  The Tainos grew cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, fruits, vegetables, cotton and tobacco.  Tobacco was grown on a large scale as smoking was their most popular pastime.  The Tainos built villages throughout the island.  As fish was a major part of their diet, many of their 60,000 person settlements were along the coasts and near rivers.

Caribbean Sea (area sometimes called West Indies)

The European Invasion

The Spanish King and Queen funded Columbus, a Portuguese, to find a westerly trade route from Europe to India and the East Indies.  With his westerly travels taking him to the Caribbean, this area is sometimes termed the West Indies.  Boasting of the timid inhabitants and fertile lands, he was funded for 3 more trips to this New World.  On his second voyage he landed in Xaymaca (Jamaica) on May 5, 1494.  Having heard the Cubans describe Jamaica as ‘the land of blessed gold’, Columbus was disappointed there was no gold in Jamaica.

Christopher Columbus spent 1503–04 shipwrecked in Jamaica and it is said the Spanish crown granted the island to the Columbus family.  In 1509 the Spanish Governor Juan de Esquivel established the island’s first capital, Sevilla la Nueva (New Seville), about a mile west of St. Ann’s Bay on the north coast.  This settlement is said to be the oldest Spanish settlement in Jamaica and one of the first cities established by Europeans in the Americas.  In 1534 the capital was moved to Villa de la Vega (later Santiago de la Vega and then St Jago de la Vega), now called Spanish Town.  It was the centre of government and trade and had many churches and convents.

Under Spanish rule the island remained poor as few Spaniards settled in Jamaica.  The island served as a supply base of food, men, arms and horses shipped to aid in conquering the American mainland. 

The Spanish enslaved many of the Tainos; some escaped, but most died from European diseases and overwork.  The Spaniards also introduced African slaves to cultivate the newly introduced sugar cane plantations.  By the early 17th century the island’s population was reduced to about 3,000.

The English Rule

On May 10, 1655, Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables led a successful attack on Jamaica.  The Spaniards surrendered to the English, freed their slaves and then fled to Cuba.  It was this set of freed slaves and their descendants who became known as the Maroons.  The Maroons adapted to life in the wilderness by establishing remote defensible settlements, cultivating scattered plots of land notably with plantains and yams, hunting, and developing herbal medicines.

The English turned a blind eye to the buccaneers based in Port Royal.  The buccaneers attacked the treasure ships of Spain and France, ensuring these other Europeans were too busy to seriously attempt to capture Jamaica from the English.  Under the buccaneers’ leadership within a decade and a half Port Royal grew to become known as one of the ‘wealthiest and wickedest city in the world’.

One of the most famous buccaneer was a young indentured labourer from Wales named Henry Morgan, born abound 1635.  Arriving in Jamaica in 1655 he became a captain of a small privateering vessel in 1662.  His tactical approach to attacks in the Caribbean resulted in great financial income and an excellent reputation.  Morgan was promoted to a vice-admiral of the Jamaican fleet.  He was knighted and appointed deputy governor of Jamaica in 1673.  Morgan died in 1688 and was buried in Palisadoes cemetery which sank into the sea during the 1692 earthquake.

The English authorities began to suppress the buccaneers after signing the Treaty of Madrid in 1670, which recognised the English claim to Jamaica.

Like the Spanish, the English concerned themselves with growing crops that could easily be sold in England.  Thus tobacco, indigo and cacao were overtaken by sugar cane plantations with the term ‘as rich as a West Indian planter’ meaning the richest person around.  The sugar industry grew so rapidly that the 57 Jamaican sugar cane estates in 1673 grew to nearly 430 by 1739.

This growth was supported by the ongoing slave trade and transport route called the ‘Middle Passage’.  This 3-sided voyage started with England trading goods (especially ammunition) with Africa where these were exchanged for slaves.  Then the journey continued to the Caribbean where the slaves were landed and sugar, rum and molasses taken aboard for the final leg of the journey back to England. 

Map of World showing Europe, Africa and the Caribbean

The Royal African Company was re-formed in 1672 creating an English slave trade monopoly that branded its initials on the slaves’ chests.  Jamaica became one of the world’s busiest slave markets with a thriving smuggling trade to Spanish America.  Jamaica’s sugar production peaked in the 18th century, dominating the local economy and depending increasingly on the slave trade as a cheap labour source.  Small farmers diversified into coffee, cotton, and indigo production, and by the late 18th century coffee rivalled sugar as an export crop.

Fight for Emancipation

Who wants to be a slave!!

A slave’s life was brutal and short, because of high incidences of tropical and imported diseases and harsh working conditions.  In addition the number of slave deaths was consistently larger than the number of births.  Europeans fared much better but were also susceptible to tropical diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria.  Despite those conditions, slave traffic and European immigration increased, and the island’s population grew from a few thousand in the mid-17th century to about 18,000 in the 1680s, with slaves accounting for more than half of the total.

Slaves rebelled whenever they could, with many successful in running away from the plantations to join the Maroons in the almost inaccessible mountains.  Maroons intermittently used guerrilla tactics against Jamaican militia and English troops, who had destroyed many Maroon settlements in 1686.

The story continues in Road to Independence -Part 2.  Read more then.

2018 Independence Celebration Photos

Enjoy these 2018 Independence Celebration photos taken on Saturday 25 August.

Attended the Celebrations and have some photos to share? Then send your photos to me at [email protected] so I can add to the gallery.

Photographer: Darren Hart





2018 Independence Celebration

The Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago diaspora get together each year to celebrate the anniversary of their independence from the United Kingdom.  Both nations gained independence in 1962, Jamaica on 6 August and Trinidad & Tobago on 31 August.

Showing the Dance Moves to All Ages

On this occasion we showcase our Caribbean culture, food, music and dance with family, friends, neighbours and the broader community.  In recent years we donate part of the proceeds to a recognised charity.

This year the event was held on Saturday 25 August 2018 at Addison Road Community Centre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville.  The charity supported is Lou’s Place, a not for profit centre offering a safe place for women.

The Hon Linda Burney MP

Approximately 250 persons were in attendance.  Special guests included:

  • The Honourable Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services in the Federal Parliament,
  • Councillor Darcy Byrne, Inner West Mayor,
  • Marco Breakenridge, Honourable Consul for Jamaica,
  • Dr Bill Milne-Home, Representative for Trinidad & Tobago.

The program consisted of:

  • Kids Corner, manned by Tekeisha, Elisha, Chantel and Nicole, the face painter.
  • Food Stalls – African Feeling, Jamaican Delights and TriniKitchen
  • Craft and Arts Stalls and
  • Full Entertainment Package with Dancehall demonstration, Story Telling, Fashion Show, Jamaican Folk Songs, Zumba Class, Jamaican Poetry Reading, Caribbean Soul Steel Drum, Dancehall, Reggae and Soca Show, Live Band and DJs.

Such a superb program would have been impossible without the assistance of sponsors.

Repeat sponsors included Appleton Estate Rum, Red Stripe Beer, Jamaican Products, World BeatMcLeod’s Antiques and Puretech-Solutions.

Other sponsors included Dance Central, DanZiNina, Dance Studio 101, SoulJah, BCS Technology, Doug & Ayesha, iShareCloset and The Honorary Consul of Jamaica.

Showing Some Sponsors Products

Special mention should be made of the Marrickville based business sponsors, Post Café, Banana Joes Foodworks and Manchester Factory.
The event was streamed live to Marlene, who wanted to be there in person if she could.

As the saying goes “Many hands make light work”, so the time and labour given by the many volunteers must be acknowledged.

Thanks to Margaret, Lisa, Stephanie, Suzanne, the Pearce family, Tom, Emma, Cheryl, Eileen, Garnett, Garfield, Ted, Keith, David, Yvonne and Rhys.  Although your name may not be mentioned, your invaluable contribution was much appreciated.

The Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Independence Celebration has been growing both in terms of program activities and participants.  It can now be regarded as a Calendar Event which should not be missed.

Would you like to be involved next year or do you have a great suggestion?  Then send me an email or give me a call on 0409 596 655.

View photos of the Celebrations.

Go Jamaica!

The Commonwealth Games were only a few short weeks ago – April 4 through 19 – but already it feels like that was a decade ago.

I travelled to the Gold Coast on Saturday 31 March, before the official opening, but with 71 nations competing, athletes, officials, the media and supporters were pouring in and the Commonwealth Games had already begun!

Sunday was spent at Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken Restaurant, in Mermaid Waters, at the function to welcome the Jamaican competitors to the Games.  I had my Jamaican Products stall, selling Easter Buns and Jamaican memorabilia.  There was the opportunity to catch up with Jamaicans from the Gold Coast, Sydney and as far north as Gladstone.  We were all surprised to meet a Jamaican who after 2 years studying in the Gold Coast was meeting other Jamaicans for the first time.  “Where had he been?,” we all asked.  “In his books,” someone replied.

Hope and Anne in Surfers Paradise pre Commonwealth Games
Hope and Anne with our Usain Bolt salute

Lunch was delicious, but the highlight of my day was the dancing by members of the Jamaican Netball team and some Jamaican locals.  My last visit to Jamaica was 2 years ago, but I missed out on seeing this dance.  It was a chucking of the shoulder and movements of the bum.  Now my mirror is assessing my progress with the new dance moves.

Lunch on Monday was at the Helm Bar Surfers Paradise enjoying the food by Karl, the visiting chef from Jamaica.

Before I knew it I was back in Sydney watching the Games on TV.  There was not much opportunity to scream Go Jamaica to the TV, as the reporting was Aussie focused.  I was caught up in the excitement of the Jamaica vs England netball match.  What a finish!

The first, second and third places in the medal tally went to Australia, England and India.  While Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, British Virgin Islands and Dominica each won their first Commonwealth Games medals.

In the end Jamaica placed 11th with 7 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze, with all medals awarded in athletics except for a silver in swimming and bronze in netball.  Go Jamaica!

2017 Independence Celebrations

On Sunday 20 August we held our 2017 celebration of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence.  It was great to see so many faces, all enjoying the dancing, reggae, steel pan music and yes, most definitely the food and beverages.

Appleton Estate Rum
Appleton Estate Rum

We know that all those who came felt like they were immersed in the Caribbean, right here in Australia.  The stalls meant we could take a part of the Caribbean home with us.  Congratulations to all who won prizes in the raffle.
Our major sponsors who donated iconic Jamaican beverages included:

Red Stripe Beer
Red Stripe Beer


Other sponsors included:


Thank you to:

  • the entertainment crew including:
    • steel pan players,
    • the dancers who showcased both traditional and contemporary dancing,
    • the DJs who made us dance and ‘shook the house’
  • the chefs who made the food possible
  • the bar folk pouring our iconic beverages and
  • other invaluable helpers.
Jamaican Products Sale
Julian Leeser MP – the first sale

The stalls:

A portion of proceeds was donated to Beyond Blue.  In line with the mental health theme, Jessica McLeod-Yu shared her video clip on depression.

Thanks to everyone.  We will see you at next year’s event.


Photos attached.



Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Independence

This year the Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence celebrations will be held on Sunday 20 August from 2:00 to 8:30pm at Thornleigh Community Centre, Thornleigh NSW 2120.

Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Flags

The entry prices to this function are:
Adults (18+): $55
Teens (10 – 17): $25
Kids (under 10): FREE

$2.50 from each ticket sold goes to beyondblue .

Come for an afternoon of entertainment for the entire family with special activities for the kids.

The function will be opened by federal member for Berowra, Mr Julian Leeser MP.

Celebrate 55 years of Independence with a Caribbean style party showcasing the  history, music and food of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

Dance to Reggae, Soca and other Caribbean music.

Stanley Steer and Folk Singers

Enjoy our folk singers, steel pan, dancers, DJs.

Errol Renaud and Steel Pan

Experience an assortment of Caribbean foods that include patties, roti, jerk chicken, curries and rice and peas. Salad, dessert, tea and coffee will also be served.

A licensed bar will sell our iconic beverages of Red Stripe Beer, Appleton Rum, Ting and Old Jamaica ginger beer.

Patties, Ting and Ginger Beer

Remember a valid Government issued ID is required confirming you are 18+ if purchasing and/or consuming alcoholic beverages.

Stalls will be promoting some of our Caribbean organisations and selling various products.

There will be raffles and door prizes.

Teens and Kids must be accompanied by an Adult.  Group bookings of 10 or more receive a 5% discount with online/over the phone pre-payment.

To purchase tickets visit our website:

*If you have trouble purchasing online, call to order over the phone:

Organiser:  Hope Kidd
Email:         [email protected]

Phone:        0409 596 655

Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence celebrations Proudly Sponsored by:

Usain Bolt – notable West Indian by Jamaican Products

Usain Bolt is the featured as the notable West Indian for August 2016.

That Winning Smile
That Winning Smile

Mid-September I attended an Optus sponsored evening for small to medium businesses. With tongue in cheek I asked an Optus Manager, as I introduced myself during the networking session, if he had heard of Jamaica. “Jamaica” he replied as he showed me his mobile phone with this screen saver of Usain Bolt grinning at the camera. This amazing photo was taken by Aussie cameraman Cameron Spencer during Usain’s 100m semi-final at the Rio Olympic Games.

Month prior to the Rio Olympic Games Optus featured Usain in advertisements, comparing itself to Bolt’s philosophy of relentless improvement adopted to rise to the top of his game.

Sherwood Content Post Office
Sherwood Content Post Office

Usain grew up in Sherwood Content, Jamaica. As a hyperactive, sports-obsessed kid Usain first tried his hand at cricket. When he discovered sprinting Usain found the perfect sport to channel his never-ending drive and dedication to excellence.

In 2007 Usain broke Jamaica’s national 200-meter record held for over 30 years by Donald Quarrie, and earned two silver medals at the World Championship in Osaka, Japan. These medals boosted Bolt’s desire to run, and he took a more serious stance toward his career.

Usain admits that like most people, he struggles to get out of bed in the morning and start his training schedule. However, he holds himself to the highest standard and is motivated to be an even better runner than the day before.

Why Not Me?
I Am the Fastest

Usain announced that he would run the 100-meter and 200-meter events at the Beijing Summer Olympics. In the 100-meter final Usain broke the world record, winning in 9.69 seconds. Not only was the record set without a favourable wind, but he also visibly slowed down to celebrate before he finished (and his shoelace was untied), an act that aroused much controversy later on. He went on to win three gold medals and break three world records in Beijing.

At the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games Usain won his fourth Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100-meter race. Bolt ran the race in 9.63 seconds, a new Olympic record. The win marked Bolt’s second consecutive gold medal in the 100. Competing in the men’s 200 he claimed his second consecutive gold medal in that race. He is the first man to win both the 100 and 200 in consecutive Olympic Games, as well as the first man to ever win back-to-back gold medals in double sprints. Bolt’s accomplishments have made him the first man in history to set three world records in a single Olympic Games competition.

Offering Advice
Offering Advice

At the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games Usain won gold in the 100 and 200, making him the first athlete to win three successive titles in these events. Usain finished out his Olympic career in style. In the 4x100m relay Jamaica took home gold, earning Usain the legendary triple-triple.

Usain is one of the world’s most famous athletes. At 1.95 metres tall, he literally towers over most of his competition. Usain Bolt has always lived life at full speed, with a jovial attitude that sets him apart.

The Victory Salute
The Victory Salute

Usain Bolt joins Paavo Nurmi of Finland (in 1920, 1924 and 1928) and Carl Lewis of the United States of America (in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996) who have won the most career gold medals at the Olympics in athletics.

“No matter where you go, people will have arguments about who is the greatest footballer or best baseball player, but one thing they can’t argue about is who is the fastest man in the world.” -Usain Bolt

Jamaican and Trinidad Independence Lunch

Both Jamaican and Trinidad and Tobago celebrated 54 years since gaining independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Jamaica gained independence on 6 August 1962 while Trinidad & Tobago gained independence on 31 August 1962.

Flags of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago
Flags of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago

Over the years Jamaican Products has coordinated a joint Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence celebration with a luncheon in Sydney. This year Jamaican Products was again pleased to coordinate the celebration held on Sunday 21 August 2016.

The Festivities
The Festivities

The event provided an opportunity for 35 adults and 4 children to celebrate the strength and versatility of our Caribbean people. There was even more to celebrate with our Olympic achievements, especially that of Jamaica.

For the first time the event had a sponsor. Campari Australia sponsored the welcoming cocktail made with the world famous Appleton Estate rum and also provided an Appleton Estate mug.

Appleton Rum and Mugs
Appleton Rum and Mugs

The celebratory lunch was held at Rosie Campbell’s of 320 Crown Street, Surry Hills. This restaurant with its Jamaican themed drinks, food and décor was a perfect spot for the occasion.

Rosie Campbell's Logo
Rosie Campbell’s Logo

The afternoon started with an Appleton cocktail as well as a delicious Mocktail option for the non-drinkers. The menu included mixed plate starters, mains and Caribbean Mess and rum balls dessert.

There was trivia, that focused on facts about Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. The answers were hotly contested. Stephanie was a hot contender but fortunately for the others she and her family had to leave early. Although Ralph was a contender the trivia ended with a tie between Kelly and Andre who was visiting from Brisbane. Leonard asked the tie breaker which saw Andre win the Appleton Estate mug.

If you attended then have a look at the photos below and you may see yourself. If you did not attend, then there is next year.

We wish to acknowledge and thank Campari for sponsoring the Appleton Estate cocktails and the mug. Never heard of Appleton Estate rum? Read about this Jamaican icon at:

For the friendly atmosphere and wonderful food we thank Rosie Campbell’s. Never heard of Rosie Campbell’s, have a look at their drink and menu option at: then pay them a visit.

A View of Jamaica

A View of Trinidad


Catching Up

Discussing the Olympics


Flags Ja TT

Hard ot Find

Not Me Again


The Ja Colours copy

Sponsoring Business Event

Jamaican Products sponsored the Hornsby Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours Event held on 2 August 2016 at the Station Street Bistro, Hornsby. As part of the night attendees tasted Jamaican food, a DJ played reggae music and there was dancing.

Marco, Hope and Julian
Marco, Hope and Julian

The evening was opened by Paul O’Neill, President of the Hornsby Chamber of Commerce. Other speakers included the Honorary Consul of Jamaica Marco Breakenridge and the Federal Member of Parliament for Berowra Julian Leeser. Julian surprised the audience by recounting his visit to Jamaica and touring houses where the famous Noel Coward and Ian Fleming resided.

Paul O'Neill and Susan Hughes
Paul O’Neill and Susan Hughes

Jamaican Products served the iconic Jamaican patties and jerk seasoned chicken to the Hornsby Chamber of Commerce members and guests.

Paul O’Neill commented how the event captured not only the taste of Jamaica, but the Jamaican spirit as well. It was a wonderful night with delicious Jamaican food, spices and beverages; an informative presentation of Jamaica and Jamaican Products; a fun Jamaican quiz; a Jamaican DJ showcasing home grown reggae music, to which Jamaica was honoured by enthusiastic dancing.

O What a Dance!
O What a Dance!

As founder of Jamaican Products I encourage other local businesses to sponsor a Hornsby Chamber of Commerce event. I was delighted with the opportunity to launch my business with my local business chamber colleagues. They showed their approval by ordering our Jamaican Products jerk seasoning, ginger beer and popular frozen homemade Patties. Products purchased on the evening by the local members and guests were home delivered. Sponsoring this After Hours Event was well worth my investment!

Making a Purchase
Making a Purchase

With any successful adventure there are many people to thank for their input. I would like to thank:
• The Chamber Committee members for their help and support in organising this exciting and fun event.
• Matthew Deluca, the chef at Station Street Bistro Restaurant for following my cooking instructions and great plating presentation;
• My Jamaican Products support team of Sandra Barrett, Yvonne Chapman, Mark Buckingham, Tom Transfield, Natalie Deluca, Emma Kidd and Tim Cooper.