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‘We don’t need another hero’ - Majority of Jamaicans do not think there is anyone now who deserves the nation’s highest award

Published:Wednesday | August 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt
Bob Marley
Dr Donna Hope

It has been more than 34 years since Jamaica named its last national hero and the majority of Jamaicans seem to think the present seven are enough.

In a recent Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll, 55 per cent of the 1,500 respondents said that they could not think of anyone else who should be conferred with the country's highest honour at this time.

Of the 45 per cent who believe that the country could add to its list of national heroes, only reggae icon Bob Marley and sprint sensation Usain Bolt figure significantly.

Cultural analyst and senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Dr Donna Hope seems to be in agreement with the majority of the respondents as she argues that for a small nation, Jamaica already has way too many national heroes.

"I think we really have to be very careful as to how we go about apportioning that notion of heroine or hero status to individuals," said Hope.

She pointed out that some persons want to incorrectly impose hero status on individuals based on achievements in their careers and the recognition they have gained internationally.

The order of National Hero of Jamaica was created in 1965 to "honour Jamaicans who fought against colonialism, and, as such, contributed to the development of the nation," but Hope said that the criteria are unclear as they are not applicable to today's society.




"We had some people from the slavery era, and we had people from the immediate post-emancipation era, but we have a different type of society now because we don't have any revolutions and people running out and trying to save us from colonial powers," charged Hope.

She said that despite the continuous calls for another national hero, there is no one she believes is currently deserving of the honour.

"I know there is a lot of discussion saying that Miss Lou (Louise Bennett-Coverley), Bob Marley, and Usain Bolt should be made national heroes, but I am not of that view," said Hope.

"We shouldn't be saying, 'Oh, this person did well in music or sports, so make him a national hero'. I mean, they are working for a living, but just because they do well in their career doesn't mean we should turn them into national heroes."

She added, "A national hero is someone who selflessly really gives of himself or herself in the project of building this nation that we are a part of, and I don't see any one who I would say is deserving of that at this moment."

- Myesha Broadie