Over 100 persons converged at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Lecture Hall on October 24, 2015 to view the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank’s (ACIJ/JMB) screening of the film “German Town – The Lost Story of Seaford Town, Jamaica”.
The film is:
- A 55-minute documentary
- Produced and directed by David Ritter
- Co-produced by Clinton Wallace for Photomundo International, with music by Project Sound.
It throws light on the history and contemporary life of a small group of Jamaicans of German descent who dwell in the isolated village of Seaford Town, located in the interior valley of the Montpelier Mountains in Westmoreland.
These inhabitants of Seaford Town, some of whom call themselves “Germaicans”, are the descendants of a small group of German immigrants who left their homeland and came to Jamaica on the invitation of the Governor, after the passing of the Emancipation Act in 1833. These immigrants:
- Received free passage to Jamaica
- Founded the community of Seaford Town in 1835
- Worked for a five-year period
- Received land on completion of their service.
In 1840, a second group of German immigrants arrived, prior to the termination of the immigration scheme in 1842. Over the years, these settlers faced grave hardships but managed to survive by:
- Engaging in agriculture, the backbone of the economy of the town
- Opting for migration to the United States, Canada and Great Britain to relieve themselves of the unemployment and poverty that characterises this underdeveloped section of the island
- Seeking jobs in Jamaica’s urban centres, particularly the educated members of the community
- Employment in teaching, the government service and shop-keeping.
The documentary was designed to unveil the mystery surrounding the history of these Jamaicans whose presence is diminishing due to migration and integration into the wider Jamaican society.
After the screening, viewers were given the opportunity to air their thoughts, pose their viewpoints and direct whatever questions they had to Ritter who was available on Skype to provide answers.