In February 1962, a new Constitution was approved by the Legislature and the Premier Norman Manleycalled General Elections.
Alexander Bustamante was elected in April and became the first Prime Minister of Jamaica. On August 6, 1962, Jamaica became an Independent Nation and a member of the British Commonwealth.
Jamaica becoming an Independent Nation, now meant that Britain, no longer controlled the affairs of the country. It was now the responsibility of the newly elected Prime Minister and the locally elected Cabinet.
Independence also meant that a Constitution, symbols, emblems, an army, Jamaican currency and passports had to be developed for the country.
As an Independent Nation, Jamaica assigns Ambassadors overseas who represent the country. They sign treaties on behalf of Jamaica and become members of various international organisations. This is important, as it gives Jamaica equal rights on various issues relating to international trade, policies and treaties.
Every year on August 6, (previously first Monday in August), Jamaicans celebrate the removal of our dependence on Britain, to control specific functions of the country. At this time we also honour all those persons who were responsible for the transfer of power.
In October, during National Heritage Week (third Monday in October), we also honour our six National Heroes and one Heroine, in recognition of their contribution to the birth of our nation.