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Shameful! - UNIA president blasts Gov’t over delay in restoring Garvey’s birthplace

Published:Thursday | July 4, 2019 | 12:20 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
The birthplace of Jamaica’s National Hero Marcus Garvey.
The birthplace of Jamaica’s National Hero Marcus Garvey.

President General of the United Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), Michael Duncan, has blasted the Government over the protracted delay in restoring the birthplace of National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey in St Ann’s Bay describing it as shameful.

In a release, Duncan said eight years after ground was broken to restore the premises, located at 32 Marcus Garvey Way in the parish capital, nothing has been done, noting that it is shameful to see the legacy of the UNIA founder and Jamaica’s first National Hero Marcus Garvey being dragged around in this manner.

On October 12, 2011, Bruce Golding, then prime minister, broke ground for the establishment of what was dubbed the Marcus Garvey Park. The public was informed that based on the recommendations of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), the memorial park would include a memorial wall, storyboards and park furniture, as well as the restoration of the existing house.

Olivia Grange, who was then minister of youth, sports and culture, promised at the time that Marcus Garvey Park would be unveiled and officially opened a year later, in October 2012.

Duncan said that despite changes in the Government on more than one occasion since the groundbreaking, no priority has been given to the project, hence non-completion.

Describing the project as one of the most significant to be undertaken in Jamaica, Duncan said it would “open the eyes of Jamaicans and the rest of the world to the life of this great man and create a channel for more people of the world to be attracted to Jamaica.

“Go ahead and implement this project as soon as possible,” he urged.

Several of Garvey’s relatives still occupy the premises while they wait on the Government to find appropriate alternate residence for them, as promised. The Gleaner understands that part of the reason for the delay in relocating the occupants stems from the inability of the residents and the Government to agree on a suitable location and the number of houses to be allocated.

One relative said that the Government is proposing to hand over two houses, which would prove inadequate as there are three families currently residing on the premises.