Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Jamaica hails heroes today
Emulate their examples, says PM

Monday, October 21, 2002


Emulate their examples, says PM

Jamaica today celebrates its national heroes with the formal presentation of national honours at a King's House function and calls by political leaders for Jamaicans to draw on the experience and determination of the heroes in confronting today's challenges.

"They did not falter, even when the prospect of success was a distant hope," said Prime Minister P J Patterson in a message marking National Heroes Day. "They did not flinch, even when faced with paying the ultimate price for the principle for which they stood.
"Let us emulate the examples of our heroes and recommit ourselves to building, one small step, one simple gesture at a time, a nation of sound values, of unity, peace and love," the prime minister added.

Patterson's comment came against the backdrop of last Wednesday's general elections that gave his People's National Party (PNP) a fourth consecutive term in office - even if with a reduced majority - and his post-election declarations that building unity would be a centrepiece of the new administration.
Jamaica's national heroes are:
. the early 20th-century Pan Africanist leader, Marcus Garvey;
. the nationalist political leader and founder of the People's National Party, Norman Manley;
. the founder of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Sir Alexander Bustamante;
. the 18th-century Maroon leader, Nanny;
. Sam Sharpe, a slave leader who led a rebellion in western Jamaica in 1832;
. Paul Bogle, a black Baptist preacher; and
. George William Gordon, a mulatto businessman who made common cause with Bogle in demanding land and rights for post-slavery peasants that led to an uprising that was bloodily crushed in 1865. Bogle and Gordon were hanged, allegedly for treason.
Each year, at Independence in August, the government announces the national honours list and the awards are formally presented on National Heroes Day in October.


Today, 129 persons will receive honours at King's House, the governor-general's residence, with the highest, the Order of Jamaica (OJ), going to seven persons:
. former cabinet minister Horace Clarke, for contributions to government;
. Jamaican-born British trade unionist Bill Morris, for his contribution to international trade unionism and his support of Jamaica abroad;
. central bank governor Derick Latibeaudiere, for services in finance;
. Development Bank of Jamaica managing director Kingsley Thomas, for public service;
. consultant actuary Daisy Coke, for her work in that field;
. retired educator, government minister and international civil servant Dr Phyllis McPherson-Russell, for her work in education; and
. lawyer Emile George for service in law and corporate management.
The rank of OJ follows the designation of

National Hero; the Order of the Nation, which, until its recent extension to prime ministers, was reserved for governors-general; the Order of Excellence, a recent inclusion which is awarded to foreign heads of state and heads of government and ranks equally with the Order of the Nation; and the Order of Merit (OM), which goes to outstanding achievers in science and letters. No more than 15 living persons can hold the OM.

Apart from those who will receive the OJ, 40 persons will receive the Order of Distinction in the Officer Class (OD), while 29 will get the honour in the higher Commander Class (CD).
Two persons will get badges of honour for gallantry and five the medal of honour for gallantry.

In his statement to mark the occasion, Opposition Leader Edward Seaga, who was pivotal in the 1960s in the dedication of Garvey as the first national hero and the marking of Heritage Week, said that the period has served as a time for reflection and focus on the need to "preserve our rich heritage and culture of our people".

"In pursuit of this goal of adequately preserving and promoting our culture, we now need to move with stronger commitment and greater speed in putting the necessary funding in place to maximising the showcasing of what we have to the world and in developing a greater sense of pride of what we are and who we are as a people," Seaga said.