Land of My Birth puts the spotlight on the origins and consequences of Jamaica's fight for Independence. The author writes from a strategic vantage point within the country's first viable political party, the party that put Independence firmly and irrevocably on the country's agenda: the People's National Party.
While its focus is on the party in the four decades that straddle this Caribbean island's political independence from Britain in 1962, the narrative sketches a panoramic context that takes in the island as a whole -- stretching from the post-slavery years of the late nineteenth century to the new horizons of the twenty-first, with its new challenges and opportunities.
This is a story of a yet uncompleted odyssey in pursuit of a national vision: one filled with ups and downs, exhilaration and frustration, remarkable people and surprising events.
In this little book, new information is brought to light and new light is shone on old information; the often surprising ordering of the information and the descriptive chapter headings present a graphic guide through the early history of the People's National Party and of Jamaica in the mid-20th Century.
Particularly enlightening is the story of the party's first seventeen years of existence when it tried without success to win political office. This stage of its journey illuminates the party's struggles, the obstacles it had to face, its setbacks and successes: giving insight and analysis to the inner ideological conflicts, personality differences and divisions, and the mediatory and cementing role of "The Three" -- Norman Manley, Noel Nethersole and Vernon Arnett -- during that early period. Here we find incontrovertible evidence that Norman Washington Manley, while not the founder, was indeed "The Father of the People's National Party."
The book Land of My Birth speaks to
- the foundation of the People's National Party of Jamaica;
- its seventeen years preparing for political office;
- its internal struggles including the expulsion of the 4Hs in 1952;
- the party's eventual conquest of political office in 1955;
- its decisive and traumatic role in the rise and fall of the West Indies Federation;
- the election of Michael Manley;
- and those critical years from 1974 when it not only reaffirmed but made valiant efforts to implement its democratic socialist vision.
In the process of encapsulating The First Forty Years of the PNP, the book celebrates, contemplates and re-imagines Jamaica, Land of My Birth. It gives more than just a valuable insight into the People's National Party; it oversteps its boundary and uncovers important aspects of the history of the Jamaican people.
The general public, Caribbean scholars, as well as anyone interested in what has made Jamaica what it is and what can make it what is should be can find something of interest in this book.