Jamaican history is almost incomplete, without highlighting the effects of colonization on the Caribbean nation. First colonized by Spain, it witnessed harsh episodes of enslavement by the European colonists – I was somewhat familiar with this piece of history because of Andrea Levy’s Man Booker nominated novel, The Long Song (2010), except the author had placed this entire chapter in a piece of fiction with themes, such as the abolition of slavery, which had only happened under British colonial rule in Jamaica.
I have always believed that colonization was a ‘force of good’ in the world, which like any empire had its good and bad chapters.
It’s good the book, The Long Song, is simply nothing but fiction because the hardship associated with slavery was because of Spanish colonists – Jamaican slaves were happier during British colonial rule. Spanish colonists had overworked and harmed Jamaican slaves to such an extent that many had died within fifty years of the Europeans’ arrival to Jamaica.
The point of the British colonizing Jamaica was extraordinary: after grave defeats against the Spanish, in an effort to win over and colonize Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, British colonists wanted to strike at the heart of Spanish colonial ambitions, even though Jamaica had very barely any economic value. So, the British struck at the Spanish Empire’s heart by colonizing Jamaica, and over the years Spain tried to take Jamaica back from the United Kingdom, but lost every time.