The scores of Jamaicans, who journeyed to the birthplace of National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley in Roxborough, Manchester yesterday (July 4), to celebrate the 120th anniversary of his birth, are welcoming the opening of a permanent exhibition on his life, now located at the site.
Constructed at a cost of just under $11 million and funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the exhibition details the hero’s life from his birth in the cool, green hills of Manchester, to his educational journey from Belmont to Jamaica College in Kingston.
It also captures his family life, career in law, involvement in sports, his role as a Statesman, and his death.
Several of Mr. Manley’s athletic and other medals are on display in the exhibition, which is brought to life by numerous photos of him interacting with his family, friends and on the national stage.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, praised the exhibition. “We are very, very pleased. We worked very, very hard with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) to research and put things in place,” she said.
She explained that an inter-ministerial team was formed with the Minister of Tourism and Entertainment to set about restoring the site. She thanked the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) Secretariat, which managed and monitored the project; the Manchester Parish Council, which implemented it, and the South Coast Resort Board for its role in getting the project done in record time.
“We started in March and were able to restore and put the exhibition in so we are very pleased. This is the first phase, we came in under $11 million and people are pleased about the museum here,” she said.
Ms. Hanna informed that solar panels will be installed at a later date to provide electricity that will allow the speeches of the National Hero to be included in the exhibition. She also said that there are discussions about having other events on the site, which offers a picturesque setting.
Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of Parliament for South Manchester, Hon. Michael Peart, noted that for over 30 years, he has been making the pilgrimage to Roxborough and finally, he is seeing the beginnings of something great happening at the site. He described the opening of the exhibition as something special.
He pointed out that Mr. Manley excelled in every aspect in his life and in celebrating his life, “we need to take stock of ourselves and try to identify with his vision, as some of what he stood for seems to be fading”.
Custos of Manchester, the Hon. Sally Porteous, said Mr. Manley would have been pleased to see what has been done to improve his birthplace. She pointed out that the visual images will create a reality for those not around in the days of Manley, to better understand the life and personality of a man, who accomplished so very much.
National Security Minister and Member of Parliament for Central Manchester, Hon. Peter Bunting, also welcomed the new exhibition.
He said it was a case of “promise made, promise kept” coming out of last year’s celebration, when a collective declaration was made by the Mayor, Councillors and himself that the site would not have been allowed to remain in its then condition for another year.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter