Tue | Aug 22, 2017

McKenzie concerned about organisation of Busta celebrations

Published:Saturday | February 25, 2017 | 2:00 AMClaudia Gardner
Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie views memorabilia belonging to Sir Alexander Bustamante at Blenheim, Hanover, during a tour yesterday. At left is Deputy Mayor of Lucea Andria Dehaney Dunham.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, yesterday said he was gravely troubled by the planning that was put into the celebrations to mark the 133rd birthday of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante.

"I am concerned about the level of organisation that has been put into a function to commemorate, to me, our greatest national hero. I believe if we are honouring the legacy and the memory of Bustamante, we must do it in a dignified way, reflecting the man that Bustamante was and what Bustamante stood for," the minister said during his keynote address at the Bustamante Heritage site in Blenheim, Hanover - the birthplace of Bustamante.

McKenzie said the Bustamante celebrations must not be seen as a partisan event, but as the "coming together of the nation" to show its appreciation for the work and the efforts of the late national hero, who was also Jamaica's first prime minister and founder of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

 

LEGACY NOT HONOURED

 

"And, if we are honest enough, we will admit that we have not honoured his legacy in the way that we ought. The commemoration of his birthday is not a political event. It crosses political borders, and I am disappointed that the sitting member of parliament, disappointed that the mayor of Lucea, who is also the councillor for the division, are not here this morning," he charged.

The minister continued, "And I don't accept that when we gather here, in the month of February, it is a coming together of Jamaica Labour Party supporters or People's National Party (PNP) supporters ... because many people will tell you that Bustamante, when he was incarcerated, it was Norman Manley who administered the affairs of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union at that time. If we read our history, it will tell you that the People's National Party was founded in 1938 and Bustamante could be considered then as a founding member of the PNP."

He added: "So it means then that Bustamante never knew the difference between the PNP and the JLP when the foundation for the struggle for the labour movement was created. I urge the people of Hanover to recognise the importance of Bustamante's contribution to Jamaica."