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Hanover residents pay homage to Bustamante

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 2:27 PM
Students of Esher Primary School in Hanover perform at the 132nd birthday celebration of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante at his birthplace in Blenheim, Hanover, last Wednesday.

Scores of citizens from Hanover turned out in the Blenheim community on February 24 to commemorate the 132nd anniversary of the birth of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante.

Leading the celebration was Custos of Hanover David Stair as well as civic and political representatives from the parish.

Addressing the ceremony, which was held adjacent to the house in which Sir Alexander was born, Stair urged Jamaicans to remember the sacrifices which were made by the nation's forefathers, including Sir Alexander Bustamante, to pave the way for future generations.

"In Jamaica, on a day to day basis, we get up and we go through our daily routine..., but how many of us ever stop to say thank you to those who are responsible for enabling us to enjoy the life that we so treasure today? Do we stop for a minute to say thanks to those who have fought for us and died that we are able to enjoy all the pleasures of modern day Jamaica?" he asked.

Stair said that listed among the struggles of the nation's forefathers is victory in attaining Universal Adult Suffrage, which gives Jamaicans the right to vote "and elect our leaders and have a say in determining our future".

"We are the beneficiaries of the struggles of our National Heroes and many others who have gone on before us. We are now the temporary guardians of that legacy," he said.

The National Hero is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Jamaica. He was passionate about people and their welfare, particularly the poor working class, and was a vanguard for human rights and national development.

Sir Alexander, who became the first prime minister of independent Jamaica in 1962, retired from active politics in 1967. He is regarded as the champion of the working class when he advocated their cause during 1937 and 1938, a period of major social unrest.

In 1943, Sir Alexander founded the Jamaica Labour Party, which he headed. The first general election under Universal Adult Suffrage was held in 1944 and the JLP won 22 of the 32 seats.

Sir Alexander was declared a National Hero in 1969 and is the only Jamaican to receive this honour while still alive. He died on August 6, 1977 at the age of 93.