Residents of Hanover and surrounding parishes turned out on Sunday, February 24, for the remembrance service to commemorate the 129th anniversary of the birth of National Hero, Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante.
The event, held at his birthplace in Blenheim, featured tributes in song and dance, while representatives of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the National Workers Union (NWU) delivered speeches, which reflected on the National Hero’s life and legacy.
A message from the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Andrew Holness, was read by caretaker for Eastern Hanover, Paula Kerr-Jarrett.
Minister at the Kendal Weslyan Holiness Church in the parish, Rev. Augustus Haye, who delivered the main message, urged Jamaicans to emulate the National Hero, by carving out proud and lasting “memorial stones”.
He noted that “sometimes, there are many memorial stones in our lives we wish were not there, but they are permanently fixed and indelibly engraved, and they are there to stay. We may not like them, but we just have to live with them.”
Rev. Haye said it is therefore of “absolute importance that we carefully and cautiously carve the stone that we would like to form our heritage as individuals, and as a nation, bearing in mind that the good done is easily forgotten, while the evil is long remembered.”
The remembrance service followed floral tributes earlier in the day at National Heroes Park in Kingston. The tributes were led by Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, and included members of government and the diplomatic corps; and Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, delivered the welcome and opening remarks, while high school students presented musical tributes.
Born on February 24, 1884, Sir Alexander Bustamante was a noted politician and labour leader. He fought against colonial rule in the 1930s, and was instrumental in the fight for universal suffrage, which the country gained in 1944. The National Hero founded the Jamaica Labour Party in 1943, and became Jamaica’s first Prime Minister in 1962, serving until 1967.
Cousins, Sir Alexander and National Hero, Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley, had the honour of being the two ‘Founding Fathers’ of Jamaica’s Independence, which the country attained peacefully on August 6, 1962.
In 1969, Sir Alexander was given the distinguished title of ‘National Hero of Jamaica.’ He died in 1977 at the age of 93.