Sun | Jun 13, 2021

THIS DAY IN 1962

Published:Wednesday | April 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Sir Alexander Bustamante
Norman Manley
The slums of Back-o-Wall, which Edward Seaga transformed into modern-day Tivoli Gardens. - File
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JAMAICA's historical landscape is littered with dates which have shaped the terrain as well as the future of the country's diverse inhabitants.

These events range from catastrophic to euphoric with no shortage of recollection whenever the various milestones are mentioned.

From earthquakes, hurricanes and fires to Olympic glory and Independence, The Gleaner started chronicling Jamaica's roller-coaster history ride in 1834, and has had a front-row seat at every major event since.

With 2012 marking Jamaica's 50th year of Independence from Great Britain, The Gleaner continues to share events which made the news, this day, in 1962.

The JLP is back in power!

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Jamaica's first Government under the new Constitution of 1944, was swept back to power yesterday, as a plurality of votes in the island's rural areas swamped the People's National Party (PNP) whose strength, remaining true to the pattern of the 1961 referendum, was concentrated in Kingston and St Andrew.

As a result of yesterday's poll, the JLP will form the country's first Government in Independence, and Sir Alexander Bustamante is slated to become the island's first prime minister.

The JLP, which gained two Corporate Area seats in 1959, again ended up with two seats and an island total of 26 seats to the PNP's 19.

The poll itself was high. A total of 569,781 people or 71.65 per cent of the island's total electorate of 795,258 voted in yesterday's election, a record poll, the highest previous poll being 66 per cent in 1959.

The JLP polled 283,351 votes, or 49.73 per cent of the total, while the PNP polled 278,704 votes, or 48.91 per cent of the total votes cast.

Shacks burn in 'Back-o-Wall'

Flames lit up the night sky over the shanty town known as 'Back-o-Wall' in Western Kingston last night as two of the matchboard dwellings were razed in what police believe to be politically motivated arson.

Firemen raced to the scene and fought to prevent the flames leaping to other tinder-dry shacks close by.

Squads of riot-ready police were hurried to the scene as firemen rolled their hoses deep into the area to combat the flames.

Balloting in Western Kingston had given Edward Seaga, the Jamaica Labour Party's candidate, the seat for the area.

JLP supporters celebrate

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters converged on the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union building last night to celebrate the party's election victory. Thronging inside the grounds and spilling into Duke Street, crowds danced and shouted while officials worked to set up microphones and loudspeakers to broadcast victory songs.

Two chains away, police equipped with steel helmets and batons stood by.

Throughout the Corporate Area, noisy celebrators walked with shouts of "freedom" and the ringing of the bell, banned as an election symbol, but very much in evidence, both during the campaign and on the victory night.

Police said no victory marches were planned for last night, but throughout the city impromptu gatherings were springing up as supporters celebrated the night of power back in the hands of the JLP after seven years as the Opposition.

Parade with coffin

Jamaica's Labourites observed a wake last night, perhaps the noisiest in the island's history.

To the chant "Manley a-gone-oh", they paraded through the streets of downtown Kingston with a miniature coffin, Manley's, borne aloft with two lighted candles on top, and a cross carried before it.

One of the first stops was The Gleaner's editorial office. The jubilant marchers making certain the event got into print.

The 'funeral procession' danced, shouted and sang, always to the rhythm of stick on empty pans.

They ended the procession at the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union's headquarters, with the cardboard coffin disappearing in the flames of a 'funeral pyre'.

I accept the decision of the people - Manley

Norman Manley made the following statement last night:

"In politics, one must always be prepared to accept the decision of the people. I accept the decision of the people. Jamaica faces a stern and challenging future.

"Jamaica has chosen the way. I can only pray a blessing on my country."

No victimisation of opponents - Sir Alex

Champagne flowed and bells rang out last night at Sir Alexander Bustamante's Tucker Avenue residence, as hundreds of supporters invaded the party leader's home to offer congratulations and make merry.

There was standing room only in the dining room, as several people reached for Sir Alexander's arm and crowded him and other top members of the party, including ministers-designate Eddie Seaga and Robert Lightbourne, who are slated to handle the portfolios of development and trade and industry, respectively.

"I can't make a statement of policy now," Sir Alexander said. "All I can say at the moment is that there will be no victimisation of my political opponents. Nor will there be any communism in this island. People, especially women, will also be able to walk the streets unmolested."