Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Whither Marcus Garvey?

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2022 | 12:09 AM


We have witnessed over the past three years [several] resolutions in regard to the awarding of a day of honour accorded to a national hero or noted Jamaican personality. For example, the minister of culture, the Honourable Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, in December 2020, led the cause for Sam Sharpe’s Day (December 27) and currently guiding the processes for the declaration of Olympian Herb McKinley Day (May 24); while leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Mark Golding, called for October 24 to honour Paul Bogle.

One may ask what is the purpose of these special days? Our answer is found in the first of such declarations 10 years ago, when Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen, read the proclamation setting aside August 17 as Marcus Garvey Day.

The proclamation, in part, stated that “on the 13th day of August 2012 in the year of the celebration of Jamaica’s Independence and the 125th anniversary of the Rt Excellent Marcus Garvey’s birth, the prime minister of Jamaica, the Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP, after consultation with the members of the Cabinet, decided that the 17th day of August each year, being the anniversary of the birth of the Rt Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, is appropriate as the day to be set aside for the focusing of attention on the outstanding contribution of the Rt Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but shall not be a public holiday”.

The governor general then went on “to proclaim and make known that the 17th day of August in each year shall be designated as Marcus Garvey Day and shall so be observed”.

In [making the declaration], the governor general noted that “from here on every year this time, all of us here in Jamaica will be called to mind to remember this outstanding national hero and what he has done for us as a people, and our children will call this to mind also on this day”.

As we observed the 12th anniversary of Marcus Garvey Day on his 135th birthday, can the Government shed some light on whether Marcus Garvey’s criminal record in Jamaica was expunged after the legislation, the National Heroes and Other Freedom Fighters (Absolution from Criminal Liability in Respect of Specified Events) Act, 2017 was passed by the Senate in 2018? No bill can become law until it is approved by the Houses of Parliament and receives the formal assent of the governor general. Did it receive the formal assent by the governor general?

A search by me on the Jamaica Parliament’s website under public bills came up negative (perhaps I looked in the wrong place), and one would have thought that such a news would be found on King’s House’s website.