The Most Honourable Edward Seaga, former prime minister and one-time firebrand, often controversial political leader, has served Jamaica as a distinguished public servant for most of his adult life. His legacy, one of institution-building and facilitation, has served post-independent Jamaica in good stead, as the young nation sought to establish its own identity and style of governance.
The young Eddie Seaga was destined for a career in medicine as a medical doctor (the desire of his late mother, Erna Seaga), but after three months of studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, he was convinced that medicine was not how he wanted to contribute. However, during that time at UWI, he became aware of literature on his first love - anthropology - so he left the university and went into this field doing on-the-spot research in urban and rural communities. He extended his research to child development and revivalist churches.
During this period of emergence into the communities, and the raw exposure and insight into the life of the poor and underprivileged, Edward Seaga was moved by poverty. He vowed to change the circumstances of the underpriviledged, and settled on the notion that representational politics offered him the best opportunity to represent the people and effect meaningful change in their lives. And so, Edward Seaga, the politician, was born.
Considered an enigma by his peers and those who would study him, Seaga first confounded his class by offering to represent the community of Backbush - a community infamous for its depravity and squalor, but which emerged a model community where the arts flourished under his guidance. He sought to provide a reason and purpose for the residents of the community which later became Tivoli Gardens.
In his years in the spotlight as a national figure, much has been written and said about Edward Seaga, the statesman, prime minister, party leader and politician, but there are maybe a few things we still did not know.
1. Has a passion for nature and its creatures, especially dogs and birds. Until recently, he had as many as eight dogs, and losing some because of natural transition left him in a state of deep grief.
2. An amateur landscaper with a love for beautiful plants, especially orchids, he maintains a modest orchid garden at home.
3. Loves to read journals and books which probe new scientific and technological frontiers.
4. For entertainment, he watches TV documentaries, especially on historical subjects, and highly rated movies.
5. Is stimulated by music, particularly the classics and the grand opera. But Jamaican popular music (reggae) holds a very special place. He played a role in the early emergence of Jamaican music, selling his record-producing company (West Indies Records Ltd) when he became involved in politics full-time. He still has a large record collection of music, including folk.
6. Played six different sports during his attendance at Wolmer's High School and Harvard University. Since those days, he has transferred his interest from being participant to that of administrator and an avid supporter, spectator, serving as chairman of the Premier League Clubs Association and the Professional Football Association of Jamaica.
7. In public life, his strongest motivational drive was the fight against injustice. This was the background motive which urged him to get agreement on a number of reforms on human rights and freedom.
8. His biggest thrill in public life is the development of new institutions (like HEART Trust/NTA, the Urban Development Corporation, Devon House, etc), redeveloping waterfront areas (Kingston, Ocho Rios and Negril) and drafting landmark policies to solve serious problems of corruption and malpractice (the Contractor General and Public Defender).
9. Is relaxed when working, but is bored by inactivity and becomes restless when idle.
10. Has been dubbed an enigma by admirers and detractors. From a political point of view, was labelled a socialist and a capitalist at different times because of his emphasis on the poor while advocating for increasing opportunities for wealth creation.