Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Give Seaga credit where credit's due

Published:Tuesday | May 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM


This being the 20th anniversary of the passing of former Prime Minister Michael Manley, there are many scholarly works that have emerged to pay homage to his legacy.

Admirers often make poor objective observers, and it gets even more strained when much depends on a recollection of matters of historical record. That such historical records exist does constrain biographers to thread carefully, lest the empirical record create dissonance for them.

Which brings me to the recent work by Dr Brian Meeks, former professor in the Department of Government at the UWI, Mona, and chair of Africana studies at Brown University in the USA.

Professor Meeks penned an article in the latest edition of Jacobin a left-leaning American magazine commemorating the life and legacy of Michael Manley, Jamaica's fourth prime minister. I take issue with one particular paragraph:"Edward Seaga's pro-capitalist government failed to make any serious impact on unemployment or the country's development."


Give due merit


Manleyites like Dr Meeks run the risk of rubbishing the fruits of Manley's labour by betraying the value of the educational door he opened for them. It is fine to have an outsize admiration for Manley; he was that kind of man. But one's admiration for one person ought not to be incompatible with giving due credit to another, where merited.

To proffer that Edward Seaga's government made no serious impact on unemployment and development between 1980 and 1989 is blatantly false. For all his well-earned political baggage, few can honestly question Mr Seaga's development credentials. Except with malice and hubris.

As a reasonable man myself, I am not under any illusions about how political tribalism has infiltrated even our intellectual discourse. Yet I believe we owe it to the next generation to leave them an authentic registry of life preceding them.

In the footsteps of the much-revered Robert Lightbourne, Edward Seaga and P.J. Patterson can lay claim to being among our most potent catalysts for development, institution building, and the built infrastructure of this country.

Let us give credit where credit is due.


Riva Ridge, St Andrew