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Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica with over million people.

Jamaica's history can be covered in many ways but all stories have to include the experience of slavery. For 150 years or Britain transported over three million African people across the Atlantic to be sold as slaves in the Caribbean plantations. At the turn of the nineteenth century nearly three-fifths of Kingston's population was made up of black slaves. The British slave trade officially ended in 1807 but slavery itself did not end until 1934.

Redemption Song Statue, Kingston. Source

Visitors to Kingston's Emancipation park are struck by Laura Facey's three metre high statue Redemption Song, a visual reflection on freedom and the horrors of slavery. It has been a source of debate and at times controversy since its unveiling in 2003.

Much of Jamaica's history has been turbulent but Kingston today is a modern cosmopolitan city which plays a central role in Jamaica's politics and economy. The city is also a major tourist destination, if you fancy going, the tourist information is at :

Kingston and Coventry

On Jamaica's independence in 1962 Coventry council, working with the West Indian High Commissioner, asked the West Indian community which city they would like to be twinned with. The answer was Kingston. There was by 1962 a sizeable and settled West Indian community in Coventry. There had been some immigration from Jamaica to England throughout the 20th century but numbers increased significantly after World War II, when West Indians were encouraged to come to address labour shortages. Many were attracted by better prospects in what they sometimes called the 'mother' country. Arrivals from this period are often known as the 'Windrush generation' - The Empire Windrush was a troopship sent to pick up servicemen in 1948. An advertisement appeared offering cheap transport on the ship for anyone who wanted to come and work in the United Kingdom and many took the opportunity.[1]

West Indian influence in Coventry has been felt in the local economy and in festivals, Caribbean food and the arts. Much of this has been supported by the Coventry West Indian Club Community Centre (this is in Spon Street) which remains a base for educational activities, a music club and one-off gigs throughout the year. The West Indian Heritage Community Action also supports members of the African-Caribbean community in Coventry. Music, reggae and ska music in particular, has been important in local west indian culture. The music was celebrated in an exhibition in the Herbert gallery back in 2008 in which the documentary below about Jamaican Sound Systems was featured. [A sound system referred to the large speakers used at dance halls and blues parties and at venues such as The Railway club in Holbrooks.

This video was described as very much a collaborative output. It was directed by Mathew Smith, with Pauline Black as narrator. The company producing it was Saffron Video. The title is 'Champion Sound' - Documentary on the history of Reggae sound systems in Coventry, UK.

As is well covered in local history [2] Coventry's two tone movement, including high profile groups such as The Specials and The Selector, drew on Ska to produce a distinctive Coventry sound. Pauline Black from the Selector talks about Coventry in a series on imagined cities produced by the BBC. This can at present be found here, but look for a series titled Reimagining the City if the file is moved.

[1] The experience of this migration and the racism which new arrivals endured became more widely known through Angela Levy's 2004 novel Small Island. This was later a BBC series.

[2] For example Two tone records is a site put together by two enthusiasts Jason Weir and Peter Walsh. Go to