As Scotland strikes out again to try seize its freedom following the vote for independence parties in the Scottish election, your global traveller is flagging up one Scots-infused country of Empire which did… Jimmyaica.
No, Jimmyaica isn’t my lame efforts at Jamaican patois.
It’s more a recognition of the Scottish imprint on Jamaica (Scots are playfully known as Jimmys) and particularly its flag.
Jamaican flags will be flying even more proudly next year as the Caribbean Island celebrates 60 years of independence and some of you might wonder why it has that St Andrew’s Cross at its centre.
Flags are us
If some of you are tentatively wondering that it might have something to do with Scotland then go to the top of the class.
You may very well be a vexillologist, or somebody who loves flags and have found a link too between the Scottish flag and the Tenerife flag too.
I did when I went out to the Canary Island with CanariaWays and found that they have the exact same flag.
The initial suggestion for the flag was a Tricolour of green (agriculture and hope), black (the struggles of its people) and gold (sunlight).
But that was thought too similar to Tanganyika’s (now Tanzania).
But then you knew that already.
Besides, a missionary from Glasgow, Rev. William McGhie (he’d obviously considered his ain Glaswegians well past saving!) had the ear of the Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.
The Man of the Cloth persuaded him to embed Christian imagery into the flag.
And so the X of the St Andrew’s Cross found its way onto the flag to mark how the Apostle had lost his life.
Glasgow belongs to I and I
The Jamaican Glasgow on the west of the island is, of course, just one of a number of place names we both share.
Among the others are Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Greenock and ouch… Culloden!
So we’re off… with our official countdown to the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.
And I’m bringing you this in association with Flag Up Scotland Jamaica which helpfully also seems to want to promote Caledonian preserves – flagupscotjam.
So where do we start in the story of Jamaica?
Well, how about at Scotland’s lowest point, no not the aforementioned Culloden but Scotland’s failed attempt at an empire of its own, the Darien Expedition in Panama.
The Darien Expedition was the breaking point for the old independent Scotland.
The whole nation from king to pauper had put money into the project only to lose more than just their shirt.
Cap in hand a section of the Scottish Parliament approached England to bail them out in 1703…
And the price was union, all of which you can read the whole story of in historian Douglas Watt’s excellent The Price of Scotland.
So where does this take us in the Jimmyaica story?
The Campbells are coming
Well to Colonel John Campbell who refused to allow Darien to put him off making his fortune and who decamped to Jamaica in 1700 and set up a sugar plantation at Black River.
He was by no means the first Scot on the island though.
Oliver Cromwell banished 1,2000 Scots prisoners of war out here in the previous century where they worked as indentured servants.
Others to be exiled included those failed colonialists from Darien, Jacobite rebels, criminals and Covenanters.
Campbell’s kingdom has a rich lineage.
And it is said that there are more Campbells here per square acre than in the whole of Scotland.
While his descendants may very include supermodel Naomi Campbell and Costa Rica footballer Joel Campbell.
And the Irish too
I’ve found my own native land’s DNA elsewhere in the Caribbean in Scotland in Barbados and in Glasgow’s bar in Tobago.
My own roots are in the old sod of Ireland and Armagh from where Patrick Murty hailed.
But I dare say that the rambling Murtys managed to get out to Ja as the locals affectionately call their island.
I’ll return to Jamaica’s many Scottish connections and I’ll be happy flagging up Jimmyaica.
As we journey on the road to the independence anniversary.
And I’ll scatter some Irish magic dust on the island too with the links which bind Jamaica and Ireland.
MEET JA ON THE ROAD
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