Prime Minister Michael Manley

The Rastafarian movement held precedence throughout the 1970’s. When it came to politics, the interaction between reggae and Rastafarianism associated with democratic socialism. This paved a political path for the People’s National Party left wing leader Michael Manley to take advantage of this opportunity and create an agenda.

Michael Manley was elected Prime Minster and was in office from 1972-1980. Manley was popular and well known as a third world leader.  Two books were used to understand his agenda including one he wrote about his approach to bring economic reform to the country. To examine his campaign in relevance to his power in office, I must provide the information in the books as it is written.

In his campaign in 1972. He had a slogan as seen in the discussion readings called the “Power of the people” that address the issue of political power and its distribution. Also his had a campaign song called “Better Must Come”;

“Better Must Come” was taken from a popular reggae song that the PNP used effectively in its campaign of 1972. Today, its message is routine and might even be considered tame in comparison with the excoriating lyrics of international reggae artists.

However, in the early 1970’s this was the “message music” of the people, not yet the national treasure that reggae is today. Before such songs and their messages gained currency, they were widely ridiculed for their grammar, spelling and odd vocabulary. To the degree that this slogan communicated a sense of social and political urgency, it did so in a way that reflected the trepidation of the subordinate classes. (K&K 19-20)

In his campaign in 1972 the PNP defines their agenda;

“The regime’s initial formulations of democratic socialism are captured by Michael Manley’s statement that “socialism is love” and the philosophy that best gives expression to the Christian ideal of equality of all God’s children”. Both definitions were aimed at specific targets: the reference to love was directed at Rastafarianism, which was the enjoying a dramatic rise in political importance. The other definition assured the electorate of the PNP’s Christian grounding.For the people, the song spoke of the wishes, gried and aspirations of the Rastafarian, the pimp, the scuffler and the other members of the subordinate classes in ways that the JLP, seen largely as the rich man’s party could not. (K&K 179-80)

Manley utilized this interaction with music to his benefit in office and progressed towards economic reform, which explains the outline in his book, “Politics of Change a Jamaican Testament”. There are two main sections to lay a foundation for this change, one is “A Philosophy of Change” (1) and “The Strategy of Change” (65). In the main sections, he discusses in sub sections topics such as social justice, equality and the restructuring of a post colonial economy. This allowed Manley to determine a well established plan of exception during elections or humanitarian causes.



  • Keith, Nelson W., and Keith, Novella Z. The Social Origins of Democratic Socialism in Jamaica. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1992. 19-20. Print.
  • Keith, Nelson W., and Keith, Novella Z. The Social Origins of Democratic Socialism in  Jamaica. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1992. 179-180. Print.
  • Manley, Michael. The Politics of Change: A Jamaican Testament. Washington: Howard UP, 1975. Print.