You could make a good case that there’s no more powerful or recognizable Caribbean symbol than the national flag of Jamaica. Oh, some may say it’s the ites (red), gold and green so prevalent in Rastafarian culture, but those colors are firmly rooted in African tradition, specifically that of Ethiopia. In terms of homegrown Caribbean symbols, the Jamaican flag is tops in most peoples’ minds.
And why not? Among Caribbean countries, Jamaica undeniably enjoys the highest profile on the global stage.
Take reggae and jerk, for instance. Reggae is as much a part of the mainstream global consciousness as any other form of popular music. Same goes for jerk when it comes to gastronomy. Now, name another place, anywhere else on earth, that has produced as well known a combo of music and cuisine.
Mexican food and mariachi? Hmmm, not so much.
Of course, there’s a good and bad side to the limelight Jamaica enjoys, with the glory of every Usain Bolt triumph balanced, to some degree, by incidents like this.
To me, the beauty of Jamaica as a country is the way it manages this balancing act. The country just has an amazing strength – powerful enough to achieve countless noteworthy successes, while also tough enough to persevere in the most trying of times.
Fittingly, this amazing strength also forms the basis of the Jamaican national flag.
Introduced to coincide with the country’s independence from Great Britain in 1962, the Jamaican flag is symbolized by one simple statement: “Hardships there are, but the land is green and the sun shineth.”
The green for the land and the yellow for the sunshine are obvious. The black is where you get the strength. It’s meant to represent the hardships Jamaica has already overcome, as well as those in the future. It’s a bold, yet wonderfully simple notion that really underscores what has made Jamaica so great over its 48 years of independence, and what will undoubtedly continue to make it great for years to come.