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No great nation builder - 65% of J'cans don't identify standout since Independence

Published:Monday | July 31, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Kevin O'Brien Chang
Donna Hope
Michael Manley
Alexander Bustamante
Edward Seaga

The reputation of Jamaicans as tough graders has been underscored in the latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll which found that 65 per cent of respondents were unable to identify a person who has done the most to develop the country over the past 55 years.

The islandwide Johnson poll was done between June 9 and 11 and had 1,500 respondents, with a sampling error of plus or minus two per cent.

For those who opted to name someone who has done the most to build Jamaica since independence, former prime ministers Michael Manley, P.J. Patterson, Edward Seaga, Portia Simpson Miller and Bruce Golding, plus the man in the hot seat at this time, Andrew Holness, all received mentions but none was able to reach 10 per cent of support.

According to political analyst Kevin O'Brien Chang, this is not surprising, as Jamaica has not had a really outstanding prime minister.

"All of them have contributed something, but none of them I would say stand head and shoulders above the others. Some of them have been strong in some areas, some have been weak," said Chang.

"For example, Edward Seaga was strong from an economic point of view and weak from a social point of view. Michael Manley was strong from a social point of view, but weak from an economic point of view."




"The one I think, of the prime ministers who balanced the social and economics, I would say is Alexander Bustamante. The country grew under him and he also was a great fighter for workers' rights," noted Chang of the prime minister and national hero who did not figure statistically in the findings.

Manley, who served as prime minister from 1972-1980 and 1989-1992, emerged at the top of the pile with a mere nine per cent of the respondents naming him. And, according to university lecturer Dr Donna Hope, he is generally seen as someone who put in place several measures to help Jamaicans.

"The NHT (National Housing Trust) was set up under his watch and several pieces of legislation were passed that benefited a lot of regular people. People could have their father's name without the father signing the birth certificate, maternity leave and more," said Hope.

Sprint sensation Usain Bolt and reggae icon Bob Marley are also ranked on the list, with three per cent of respondents saying "the Jamaican people" have done the most to build the country over the years.