Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Manley at 124 - man of excellence, a warm figure

Published:Thursday | July 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen lays a floral tribute at the cenotaph for National Hero and founding father of the People’s National Party, Norman Washington Manley, at National Heroes Park on Tuesday.
Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips at the Floral Tribute to National Hero and founding father of the People’s National Party, Norman Washington Manley at National Heroes Park on Tuesday.

On the 124th anniversary of his birth, National Hero Norman Washington Manley was lauded by political stalwarts high up in the hierarchy of the People's National Party (PNP) as being a visionary who laid the foundation for modern-day Jamaica.

"The person who raised the call for Jamaica's independence, that's how I best remember him," leader of the Opposition and PNP president, Peter Phillips, told The Gleaner at a floral tribute held at National Heroes Park on Tuesday to commemorate the former Chief Minister's birth in 1893.

"He created a vision of a country that was working for all its people; a country that would deliver upon a dream of excellence and personal accomplishment for each individual; a country of progress though education and where the dignity of every Jamaican would be preserved and respected," Phillips said.

A Rhodes Scholar, Manley served as Chief Minister from 1955 to 1959 and as Premier from 1959 to 1962.

He was a founding member of the PNP in 1938 and led the party in every election from 1944 to 1967.

Long-serving party chairman and member of parliament for St Catherine North Western, Robert Pickersgill, recounted Manley's excellent memory and knife-edge English skills.

"I learnt some of the skills of a chairman from the great one. He would sit there, listen, and after a particular agenda was exhausted, he would summarise and even quote, almost, what everyone said. One of my fondest memories is that I sat at the executive meeting of the PNP with him chairing. I cherish that moment because as we speak, I'm the only member of the PNP executive that can say that. "

'Mediocrity should never be an option'

In speaking to the mettle of the man, Norman Manley, member of parliament for South Eastern St Andrew Julian Robinson voiced that Manley was the embodiment of excellence throughout his life.

"As a scholar, lawyer, athlete, politician, the thing that I take from him the most is that anything you do, you must do the best you can, and mediocrity should never be an option. He has been a great example for us here in Jamaica and across the world, and it's important that younger Jamaicans growing up know about his legacy and the platform he has laid for us in this country."

In a personal tone, Joseph Manley, grandson, spoke of a man characterised by much more than political clout.

"I was 11 years old when he died so, I grew up knowing him as my grandfather. He had a great sense of humour and was sort of mischievous. He loved to play a prank and was very thoughtful and focused. He'd make you feel like an adult, he paid attention persons when they spoke. He's not at all what you read about him, he's much warmer."