Title: St. Anns Bay
St. Ann's Bay
Originally called Santa Gloria by Christopher Columbus, St Ann’s Bay is at once the capital of the similarly named “Garden Parish”, home to the island’s first city, and birthplace of Marcus Mosiah Garvey – Jamaican National Hero and pioneer in Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism. St Ann’s Bay displays many old historic buildings and monuments set between the brilliant green mountains and the royal blue Caribbean Sea. The historic St Ann’s Bay courthouse (built in 1860) and fort (built in 1750) have both witnessed many years of hardship, conflict and brutality and now stand as testimony to the understated strength and character of this town. Also of note are the statues of Marcus Garvey and Christopher Columbus, each standing at opposite ends of the town. As parish capital, the town attracts visitors from all over the mostly rural inland areas. As a result, St Ann’s Bay looks and feels like ol’ time Jamaica, where the entire town, even the small side lanes, radiates a cosmopolitan blend of people-on-official-business, people-on-personal-business and people with not much else to do but socialize, all dressed accordingly.
Local legend maintains that there is a flammable body of water near the Police Station. Apparently, this spring will can be lit and burn continuously until extinguished by waters from the same spring. The elusive spring is also said to have remarkable healing properties for those who find it. Please note: this story may be at best wild conjecture, but investigating its validity may offer the opportunity to make new friends!
Jamaica’s first National Hero, Marcus Garvey was born in St Ann’s Bay. The charismatic and influential black activist and organizer spent his youth here before moving to Kingston, where he started his political life. His messages of black solidarity and self-determination paved the way for many black Pan-Africanist leaders around the world, while in Jamaica his messages defined the philosophy of the Rastafari movement. A son of a well-respected local citizen, Garvey embodied the spirit of the Jamaican working classes and eloquently represented the interests of people from the entire African Diaspora by organizing the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), a black nationalist movement that in its prime had over one million supporters worldwide.
A walking tour of St Ann’s Bay is easy and well worth the effort. Start on either side of the town, but as you make your way across do take note of the St Ann’s Bay Parish Library, Garvey’s Market Street house, the St Ann’s Bay Courthouse, the old St Ann’s Bay Fort, the Baptist Church on Main Street, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, the market and the Columbus statue on the west side of town. St Ann’s Bay is compact and easy to get around, so a visit here can be done on the same day as the Seville/Maima Heritage tour. It is almost inevitable that any tour of St Ann’s Bay will end near to or at the beach, a delightful end to an intriguing journey through Jamaica’s heritage.
Say Hello To:
Any trip to St Ann’s Bay should include a stop at the Parish Library, at the very least to see the statue of Marcus Garvey outside. The library offers public access to the Internet as well as a remarkable collection of information on Jamaica and St Ann in particular. If you happen to go in, have a quick chat with Fitzroy Campbell, Library Aide, who can help you find anything you need in the library or in the town.