Wed | Jul 24, 2019

My Political Journey: Jamaica’s Sixth Prime Minister Pt. 8 | My honour to have served as prime minister for 14 years

Published:Friday | December 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson speaks at the launch of his book, ‘My Political Journey’, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.
1993: Prime Minister P.J. Patterson (right), with future People’s National Party presidents Portia Simpson Miller and Dr Peter Phillips.
March 31, 1992 – The new prime minister of Jamaica, P.J. Patterson (right), gets a warm embrace from outgoing PM Michael Manley. Patterson was sworn in on the lawns of King’s House on Monday, March 30, 1992.
March 31 1992 – “I DO SOLEMLY SWEAR ...”: Prime Minister P.J. Patterson (right), Bible in hand, takes the Oath of Office, administered by Governor General Sir Howard Cooke at his swearing-in at King’s House in succession to Michael Manley who resigned effective 5:00p.m. that day.

P.J. Patterson, ON, OCC, PC, QC, was Jamaica's sixth and longest-serving prime minister - 1992 to 2006. His book, My Political Journey: Jamaica's Sixth Prime Minister, which was published by The University of the West Indies Press, was launched on Wednesday. The Gleaner has been publishing excerpts this month. Here is the final part.

Norman Washington Manley had run the first leg of the relay to secure our Independence. It was now time for me to pass the baton I had received from Michael Norman Manley, who ran the second leg for the PNP. For the first time, running in the lane to which history had assigned us, a woman, Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, was to become Jamaica's seventh prime minister, and in so doing, shattered the glass ceiling.

In my brief address, I stated how wonderfully privileged I was to have contributed to the evolution of our democracy and of the political process which enable us to celebrate in formal Jamaican style a change of leadership by orderly and peaceful means that cannot be surpassed anywhere in the democratic world.

It has been a privilege and a distinct honour to have been able to serve for 14 years as prime minister of this blessed land. We have had our triumphs and successes, but we have also shared our moments of disappointment. But what is life itself if it is not that?

The journey has been one of peaks and valleys, but never one where any mountain was too high or any valley too dangerous to cause us to falter.

With the undergirding of the blessings of the Almighty and the prayers of the people, I have been fortified and encouraged in all my endeavours and would like on this occasion to say a final word of thanks for the generous support which I have received from all those who wish Jamaica well.




I am confident that the country will be able to rise to new levels of economic growth and witness upward social mobility as we continue to build on the foundations which have been well and truly laid and to profit from the traditions bequeathed to us by earlier generations.

During the course of the reception which followed, I slipped quietly out, got into my private-, car and departed as just another Jamaican citizen through the gate that leads on to West King's House Road. By then, most of the bustling evening traffic of Kingston had gone. I was home within a few minutes. One of the security officers, who would no longer be in my detail, cried as he made his way slowly down the driveway.

Soon after I reached home, my 12-year-old granddaughter, Gabrielle, handed me her programme from the just-completed ceremony, on which she had written: "You no longer have to take five - take 25. No more work, no more stress - relax. You're free."

I appreciated more fully what she had written when I went to bed that night - "Dream and fall asleep" - I did not have to wake up next morning to deal with any story in the national news or any item on the national agenda.

Soon after my eyes opened to the dawn, I gave thanks to the Almighty for the good health and strength which had carried me through my leg of the journey. The torch had been passed safely to the next generation for the journey ahead. I prayed for God's richest blessing on the new leaders and the people and that the hope of our people would not be smothered in doubt and fear.

As the promise of a new day was revealed, and inspired by a song from my childhood, I renewed my personal "vow to my native country, all earthly things above, entire and whole and perfect, the service of our love".