• Jacqueline Cameron

Jamaica's Unsung National Heroes - The Stories of Three Amazing Jamaican Women

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Jamaican People; Jamaican Culture; Jamaica Attractions; Jamaican Heritage; Famous Jamaicans; Jamaican History

The Order of National Hero is the most senior order in Jamaica’s honor system awarded by the local government. To be qualified as a Jamaican national hero, a person must have been born in or be a citizen of Jamaica, and rendered to the country, service of a distinguished nature. Seven have earned that distinction, but Jamaica has also produced numerous nsung heroines in their own rights – Jamaican Women.

A Jamaican Farmer

Jamaica National Heroes & Heroine

Marcus Garvey was Jamaica’s first national hero, conferred in 1969 along with George William Gordon, Paul Bogle, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association which protested racial discrimination, aided economic projects, and encouraged self-government for black people.

George William Gordon urged resistance to forced oppressive conditions of the less fortunate. He subdivided and sold his own lands at low rates, empowering them to gain fairly from their produce.

Paul Bogle challenged official forces when leading a protest march to the Morant Bay courthouse. It set a foundation for fair practices within the justice system, plus social and economic improvements.

Norman Washington Manley was instrumental in arranging Jamaica’s independence from Britain.

Alexander Bustamante brought attention to the social and economic problems of the underprivileged, and confronted the power of the Colonial Governor. He became independent Jamaica’s first Prime Minister in 1962.

Samuel Sharpe was the notable leader of the 1831 Slave Rebellion, which was instrumental in abolishing slavery in Jamaica. Along with the island’s first national heroine, he was conferred the honor in 1982.

Nanny led the Maroons in a victorious 18th century war over British colonizers. Her leadership is credited with delivering the first organised force of Jamaica’s slave population for freedom. Her strength can be glimpsed in the modern Jamaican woman.

Nanny was a leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th century. She was known by both the Maroons and the British settlers as an outstanding military leader.
Nanny of the Maroons

Characteristics of Jamaican Women

Jamaican women embody the resilience, warmth, and natural beauty depicted in the black, gold and green of our flag. Jamaica became one of the world’s only 62 states that elected a woman as its leader back in 2006. In 2015, an International Labour Organisation study found that Jamaica had the highest percentage of female managers worldwide, with nearly 60%! These are just samples of the undeniable value exuded by Jamaican women.

A Jamaican Female Manager

Vigour is evidenced in our very own mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The diligence of a market lady packing produce for the day, a vendor transporting goods on her head, and a business woman balancing multiple roles as “head cook and bottle washer” are common sights throughout Jamaica. These responsibilities are often in addition to being homemakers, breadwinners, partners, and mother figures keeping households level. Over many decades, extraordinary accomplishments of our sun-kissed island women and their descendants have extended beyond the small country’s shores to impact the globe.

A Jamaican Market Woman

Tessanne Chin

Jamaican songbird Tessanne Chin was born in 1985, after the heyday of ska and The Carnations band her pa rents performed with. She grew up around tuneful family talents and was introduced to music at an early age. It was only natural that she develop her own melodic sound and flourish within that industry. Her older sister Tami Chin was a popular local recording artiste.

Tessanne began performing at a young age with one of Jamaica's performing arts schools, Little People and Teen Players Club. She later toured for 3 years with reggae icon Jimmy Cliff as one of his back-up singers, before deciding to launch her own music career. Upon her return to Jamaica she joined a rock ban