The first Africans arrived in Jamaica in 1513 as servants to the Spanish settlers. These Africans were freed by the Spanish when the English captured the island in 1655. They immediately fled to the mountains where they fought to retain their freedom and became the first Maroons.
With the advent of the Sugar Revolution, there was an acute labour shortage. This need was met by large scale importation of enslaved Africans. The result of the slave trade was that the majority of the Jamaican population was of African descent. From the time of the Africans arrival to the New World, there was miscegenation, leading to the rapid development of a coloured population.
The abolition of the British slave trade in 1807 did not mean that people of African origin no longer came to the island. In fact during the apprenticeship period (1834-1838) and in 1839, a number of persons of African descent came to Jamaica as free labourers. Also, in the following 25 years about 10, 000 free labourers of African origin came to the island.
The chief survivals of African culture are said to be in the parishes which had the largest number of these voluntary workers. For example, the kumina ritual of St. Thomas is one of the best known surviving rituals.
The Africans were extremely clever! After they resisted oppression and was given freedom, they started studying and using live plants as medicines and cure for common illnesses. Some of whom became herbal doctors otherwise known in jamaica as bush doctors, nurses, shop keepers and traders.
The Africans were very grounded and business minded people they contributed greatly to the development of their community.
Nurse Mary Seacole that nursed many english soldiers back to health when they fought in the war is a living testament.
Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. As a child, the young Mary, was fascinated with medicine, and from her mother she began learning many traditional African medicines. Mary gained a wide knowledge in treating endemic illnesses such as yellow fever.
With the help of a 'kind patroness' (local elderly, rich lady) Mary achieved a good education and trained as a nurse.
Other Africans went on to become teachers, farmers, shoemakers and locksmiths....which contributed greatly to the development of Jamaica.
Sir Marcus Garvey and Paul Bogle are true testament of clever Jamaican Africans.