By Garth A. Rattray
Last week, on Heroes Day, I wondered who will be our next national heroes. We already have seven. The Rt Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey was chosen for his contribution because he founded the internationally acclaimed Universal Negro Improvement Association to elevate 'Black' people. The Baptist deacon from Stony Gut, the Rt Excellent Paul Bogle, was chosen because of his ultimate sacrifice that inspired positive socio-economic changes for our people.
The self-educated landowner, the Rt Excellent George William Gordon, sacrificed to help farmers market their produce and supported the efforts of the underprivileged. His execution also inspired positive socio-economic changes. The Rt Excellent Samuel Sharpe surreptitiously planned and instigated the 1831 slave rebellion that went awry but nonetheless played a significant role in the abolition of slavery.
The Rt Excellent Nanny of the Maroons was a renowned and extraordinary guerrilla warfare leader who represented strength and unity. Her tactics contributed to the signing of the second peace treaty between the Maroons and Britain.
The Rt Excellent Norman Washington Manley - an exceptional athlete and erudite scholar - often donated his energies, time and talent to the workers' cause. He founded the People's National Party in September 1938 and spearheaded the demand for universal adult suffrage in Jamaica. He was the team leader in our negotiations for our self-governance.
The Rt Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante's righteous indignation for the system that oppressed the poor and working class of the 1920s and 1930s made him a powerful, fearless and influential champion of their cause. He founded the Jamaica Labour Party in 1943 and was the first prime minister of independent Jamaica.
After 51 years of Independence, we should be considering modern-day national heroes to represent our sociocultural transformation. In spite of their significant collateral contributions to Jamaica internationally, celebrities like Usain Bolt and Bob Marley did not set out to sacrifice and dedicate their lives to the betterment of our country. I feel that Miss Lou is a worthy candidate. And, putting negatives aside, I think that a former and transformational prime minister should be considered. However, our politics dictate that none can be chosen without his counterpart.
The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley - writer, thespian, folklorist, poet, educator and entertainer. She worked tirelessly to entrench our unique culture and national language. She forever influenced the path of our society.
The charismatic, magnetic and energetic trade-unionist and politician, the Most Honourable Michael Norman Manley, dedicated his life to social reforms to aid the underprivileged. He established a literacy programme, minimum wage, land reform, lowering the voting age, equal gender pay, maternity leave, the abolition of the Master and Servants Act, the abolition of bastardy, subsidised school meals, special employment programmes, free health care and free education at all levels. He enabled many people living today to realise their dreams and serve their country.
Finance and planning wizard, the Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga, helped to organise and build our post-independent economic infrastructure. As an aficionado of Jamaican arts and culture, he played a major role in their development and in the establishment of our music, parks, green spaces and national heritage. This career politician helped draft our Constitution, formed various entities for rural and urban planning, social safety nets and tax reforms. He initiated a tweaking of the Constitution for a better balance of power. He continues to serve today through academia, technical advice, and social commentary.
The honour of national hero may be conferred upon any individual as long as he or she is not "an official of the Order or a member of the Advisory Committee" and who "was born in Jamaica or is, or at the time of his death was a citizen of Jamaica and rendered to Jamaica service of the most distinguished nature".
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org