Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante was one of the “distinguished sons of the Jamaican soil."
The Minister noted that it is because of persons like the National Hero why Jamaicans are able to celebrate their 50th anniversary of Independence from colonial rule.
Miss Hanna was one of the many persons who paid tribute to Sir Alexander at a ceremony at his shrine in National Heroes Park, on February 24, to commemorate the 128th anniversary of his birth.
Paying floral tributes were: Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen; Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, representing Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; and Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness.
Flowers were also placed at the shrine of the National Hero by His Worship the Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Lee Clarke; General Secretary, Jamaica Labour Party, Aundre Franklin; President, Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Senator Kavan Gayle;Ambassador of Senegal, representing the Diplomatic Corps, Her Excellency Nafissatou Diagne; and Chairman, Bustamante Foundation, Seragh Lakasingh.
Reflecting on the life of Sir Alexander, Subject Specialist for Speech, Drama and Literary Arts at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Andrew Brodber, said Sir Alexander was a true Jamaican patriot, who devoted his life to nation building.
He described the National Hero as: “A Founding Father of this nation, the salt and pepper of Parliament, a political titan and fearless.”
“Undoubtedly, he molded the foundation of Jamaica’s sovereignty and played his part in advancing Jamaica at a very challenging time of our history. Indeed, the colossal contributions made by this great trade unionist, humanitarian and political titan, deserves national honour and a significant place in our memories and heritage,” he said.
Regarded as one of the founding fathers of post-independent Jamaica, Sir Alexander, buoyed by the labour upheavals of 1938, formed the BITU, through which he advocated for improved working conditions and wages for labourers.
In 1943, he formed the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), through which he lobbied for self-governance, resulting in Jamaica gaining independence from British colonial rule on August 6, 1962. He also became independent Jamaica’s first Prime Minister, following the national elections in that year, which resulted in the JLP forming the first government of the newly birthed nation.
Sir Alexander retired from active public life in 1967, and was conferred with the honour of National Hero by the government two years later, the only recipient to receive this award during his lifetime. He died on August 6, 1977 at the age of 93.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter