William Knibb, Kingston (Jamaica) & Kata

Thursday, April 12, 2012


William Knibb: was born in 1803 in Kettering, Northamptonshire. He came to Jamaica as a Baptist missionary and based on what he saw, was determined to ‘slay the monster’ of slavery, which proved a challenge as missionaries depended on the benevolence of the plantation owners. Knibbs was jailed for ‘inciting a rebellion’, threatened with tar and feathers and had his church and classrooms burned to the ground. He was exonerated of all the charges brought against him.


William Knibb, Missionary
In one impassioned speech, he is reported to have said, “I call upon children, by the cries of the infant slave who I saw flogged on the Macclesfield Estate, in Westmoreland. . . . I call upon parents, by the blood streaming back of Catherine Williams , who, with a heroism England has seldom known, preferred a dungeon to the surrender of her honour. I call upon Christians by the lacerated back of William Black of King's Valley, whose back, a month after flogging, was not healed. I call upon you all, by the sympathies of Jesus.” 

He lobbied tirelessly on the island and in England for the abolition of slavery. His work was not in vain and he continued making representation before the Houses of Parliament until slavery was abolished. Beyond that, he travelled to and from Jamaica again when the slaves were being taken advantage of under amelioration. This lobby resulted in the period of amelioration being reduced from six to four years. On the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery (1988) in British territories, William Knibb was conferred with the Order of Merit, Jamaica's highest honour granted to civilians. A high school and church were named in his honour.

Downtown Kingston & harbour
Kingston: the capital city of Jamaica, is full of contrasts. The city is home to businesses, shopping centres, tons of churches, upscale homes (further uptown in St. Andrew) and shanty towns. It’s found at the south eastern end of the island and faces on to the harbor, which is the seventh largest natural one in the world. 

Kingston was founded in the late 1600’s after an earthquake destroyed the city of Port Royal, which was described at the time as the wickedest city in the world, thanks to the pirates. An aside here, Calico Jack met his death in 1672 by hanging (at the harbour).  This was to discourage piracy.  Sir Henry Morgan, another pirate became Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica in 1720. 

SpanishTown was the seat of government, but over time (in 1872), Kingston came to replace it as the capital city. Most of the island’s economic activity still takes place in Kingston. Today, Kingston is home to several universities, theatres, botanical gardens, a defunct railway station and several museums. I should mention that Kingston never sleeps. The nightlife is awesome, if that’s your thing.

Kata is between head tie & basket
Kata: is a Japanese word that describes a choreographed series of movements. In Jamaica, a Kata is a wound piece of cloth that cushions the head from heavy loads. These were used in the olden days when transportation was limited. It is thought that the practice of using a kata came over with the slaves from Africa. 


 

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25 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard of Knibb, even though I've read a bit about William Wilberforce.
    And another new word! I didn't know kata before.

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    1. Hey, Deniz, though I'm familiar with much of this stuff, I'm learning things along the way too.

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  2. Knibb, what a man! He worked so hard to free the slaves. Well done. I also like the way the Kata works on a woman's head. How hard it must be to master that.

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    1. Clarissa, I learned a lot more about him than I knew before. In the middle of all of that, he lost some of his children to illness. He was a true Christian.

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    2. And as for the Kata, yes, it does take a little skill to master carrying loads on one's head.

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  3. I enjoyed learning more about Kingston a city that's always fascinated me for some reason.

    Denise

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    1. Happy this helped, Denise! I saw your pics this morning and started reading, but had to dash. Be back later!

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  4. I'm a big fan of anyone who wanted to slay the monster of slavery.

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  5. William sounds like my kind of man, and he's even the same religion! I love learning more about Jamaica and its history.

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    1. Talli, I guess the only reason he wasn't made a national hero is because he isn't Jamaica. Now there's someone who helped change the face of history.

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  6. I love everything I'm learning about Jamaica on your blog! Kingston sounds like a fascinating city.

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    1. Yep, you can just about everything in Kingston city!

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  7. How well I remember seeing the women carrying baskets and trays on their heads. We don't see it any more. And thank God of William Knibb! (I didn't know Henry Morgan had been the governor.)

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    1. Same for Jamaica. I don't see people carrying things on their heads anymore. Today, it's more the exception than the rule.

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  8. Knibb was a true hero for standing up for what was right in the face of all that opposition. I'm a bit of a history buff so I'm really enjoying your posts!

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    1. Hey, Nick,
      I'm learning quite a bit too as I do this. Most Jamaicans know who he is, but not the extent of his involvement in helping to kill slavery. I'll be away for most of the day, so will catch up with you later.

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  9. I've often wondered if balancing things on your head allowed you to carry a greater load than in your arms. I've only had that thought though when forced to carry things a large distance. You wouldn't want to have to duck under things though so it'd only be practical carrying things like the lady is carrying and not moving furniture balanced on your head.

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    1. Ya know, some people are skillful enough to do both. A good skill to have when there's no other means of moving stuff about. :) I suspect this still goes on in remote regions of Africa.

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  10. Knibb sounds like a great guy.
    I'm just wondering... how do you know all this stuff? LOL.

    Also, I've tagged you in my last post

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    1. Anna, I don't have all this stuff in my head. :) I have a fair idea of what these people do/did, so the internet is a great help for additional information. As for the Jamaican stuff, I think I might be giving my age away.

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  11. Knibb was a great man, and very brave for his time. I love learning so much about Jamaica!

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    1. Agreed, and in the face of him losing at least 3 of his children to illnesses, he's out of the ordinary to concentrate on anything else.

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  12. I love to learn about heroes in our history like Knibb. We have such shame in our history, it's good to hear about the amazing people as well.

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    1. Jemi, yes, definitely good to hear about the good our ancestors did. We have our fair share of shame too, because it wasn't until recently that I knew that in Africa, there were Africans helping the slave traders. In fact, some tribes helped the trade along by selling those they had captured in war and taken as slaves.

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