Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Visitors in the dark at 'historic' park

Published:Tuesday | July 17, 2012 | 12:00 AM
This lignum vitae tree was reportedly planted by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson during the 1994 official renaming of Mandela Park in St Andrew. - photos by Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer
The southern section of Mandela Park in St Andrew.

A 54-year-old man known as 'Pug' sat under a tree in Mandela Park in the centre of Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, with two other men as they sought shade from the merciless sun piercing the area.

Asked if he knew why the area he frequents is called Mandela Park, Pug said he did not know that it was named after the legendary South African leader who had inspired the world with his unrelenting thrust for freedom.

"I don't have an idea," admitted Pug. By their admission, Pug's companions were also in the dark as they shook their heads, seemingly mesmerised.

P.J. planted tree

He claimed to have remembered that it was former Prime Minister Michael Manley who named the park and pointed to a lignum vitae tree that he said another former prime minister, P.J. Patterson, had planted.

Pug pointed to a mahoe tree that he said was planted by Robert Pickersgill and another by Dr Paul Robertson. Both were members of the Manley/Patterson administration of the 1990s, the era when Mandela was freed from prison, visited the island and was elected the first black president of South Africa.

Project officer for Mandela Park, Halvorn July, disclosed that several discussions are to be held tomorrow in the park to commemorate Mandela Day. Describing the park as "very historic", July said the park was renamed in 1994 to coincide with Mandela's visit to Jamaica.

He said his team had hoped to place inscriptions on headstones that are already in place, but was prevented by a lack of funds.

Clive Dallas and Eric Moncrieffe, the two security officers assigned to Mandela Park, yesterday expressed satisfaction with the peaceful holiday atmosphere even as a few women tended to blooming flowers in the park.