Prime Minister Bruce Golding has urged all Jamaicans to hold dear, the memory and legacy of National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, the great and exemplary leader, who was instrumental in making things happen, that set the country on a new path.
Addressing a civic ceremony, which was held to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Sir Alexander’s birth, at his birthplace, at Blenheim, in Hanover, on February 24, the Prime Minister said that the ceremony for the first person to be declared a National Hero, while still alive, is more than just a commemoration of his life.
“Colourful though that life was, charismatic though that personality was, dominant as his towering figure was in Jamaica for many, many years, the reason why we gather here is also to recall a period in our history, in our evolution as a people and as a nation, when significant things happened that changed the course of our history and set us on a new path,” the Prime Minister said.
“This was a memorable period of our history when the inspirational leadership of Sir Alexander Bustamante, of one man, made those things happened. He had the courage to challenge the power structure and the colonial establishment that existed and knew that he was taking a great risk, but was prepared to take that risk and pay the price. He was prepared to pay that price because he believed that what he was doing was right and that it was so right, that there was no price too high and no sacrifice too great for him to pay, for the downtrodden people of Jamaica,” Mr. Golding argued.
He pointed out that no other leader was as successful and as effective as Mr. Bustamante, as he was able to pierce the armour of the colonial establishment and electrify the people of Jamaica, winning the confidence of the people in the end.
“It was he who paved the way for the modern labour movement; it was he who paved the way for the modern political system, along with Norman Manley, and it was he who paved the way for Independence. The development of a nation is normally defined by persons like Bustamante and it’s not something that happens in any one generation. It is rather a long continuous journey, like a long relay in which runners take the baton and run their leg and then pass that baton on to the next runner,” the Prime Minister said.
Students of the Lucea Primary School, in Hanover, performing at the civic ceremony to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, at Blenheim, Hanover, on February 24. The ceremony was organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
He said that the National Hero ran his leg well and passed the baton on, giving us, as a country, a good head start.
“It is for us now to make up the ground and go on to win the race. Ours is not just a legacy that he has left us. Ours is a duty and a mission that we have to fulfill. The spirit of Bustamante can never die. The spirit of Bustamante and all that he meant and inspired in us, must never be allowed to die. Long live the spirit of William Alexander Bustamante,” Mr. Golding declared.
Reflecting on the life of the National Hero, Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, said that Sir Alexander was regarded as one of the fathers of the nation, who laid the true foundation of nationhood for Jamaica.
“His exploits as a labour and political leader could only be matched by very few in these parts of the world. Not only was his political struggles of extreme significance, his personal struggles to acquire the skills and the commitment to provide leadership was of some interest to everyone. We who have the honour of carrying on his legacy, must be extremely proud of his achievements. He was indeed a charismatic and influential speaker, who gained much experience through his travels and therefore, there can be no question about his intellectual capacity,” Dr. Chang said.
“Indeed, Sir Alexander Bustamante, while not a prolific writer, his ideas were profound and continued to impact the politics of today. Much of his thoughts and actions are proving to be more relevant today. We recognise Bustamante, not only as a great Jamaican labour and political leader, but he can be rated among important political and leaders of the 20th Century, standing beside the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi and our own great Marcus Garvey,” he said.
Several schools and cultural groups from across the parish of Hanover gave tributes in songs, dances and speech to the National Hero.