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Hundreds of students and citizens from across the parish of Hanover gathered in the small district of Blenheim recently to participate in a civic ceremony, which was held to commemorate the 121st anniversary of the birth of late National Hero, Right Excellent, Sir Alexander Bustamante.
Several items of music, poetry, dance and drama were performed by students in fitting tribute and honour to a great son of Jamaica, whose mission was to improve the quality of life for the poor and to be a voice, particularly for those of the working class.
In his tribute to Sir Alexander Bustamante, Deputy Island Supervisor of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Wycliffe Matthews said the late National Hero was without doubt, a leader of great distinction.
“Bustamante fought hard against injustice and himself became a victim of injustice. We today are seeing the greatness of the man who was born right here in Hanover and who, when the soldiers confronted the large crowd of protesting workers, unbuttoned his shirt, displaying his chest and told the soldiers to shoot him instead. This quality leadership prompted the crowd to affirm that ‘we will follow Bustamante till we die,” Mr. Matthews stated.
Giving the main tribute, Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Senator Bruce Golding, said Bustamante gave leadership to a powerful set of people who, experiencing a sense of powerlessness, were empowered through such leadership.
“Bustamante took the people’s power, wrapped it around the oppression they were being subjected to, provided the leadership and what could have been an effort in futility, became a powerful social and political force that reshaped the social landscape in Jamaica and wrote the script for the political evolution of Jamaica,” Senator Golding said.
He stressed that Bustamante showed people who did not understand the power they had, how to exert such power. “The challenge to us as a people is to recognize that we do a disservice to Bustamante if we were to presume that his mission has been accomplished, that his work is finished and that we can regard him as part of an ancient past that was necessary but we can move on,” he said.
Sir Alexander Bustamante, Jamaica’s first Prime Minister and founder of the Jamaica Labour Party and the BITU, officially retired from active politics in 1967 and died on August 6, 1977 at the age of 93.

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