JIS News

October 16, has been declared Lady Bustamante Day in the municipality. Councillor Desmond McKenzie, Mayor of Kingston, made the declaration on Thursday (October 16), at a civic ceremony held at the National Heroes Park, where Lady Gladys Bustamante, ‘Lady B’ was presented with a ceremonial Key to the City of Kingston for her contribution to national development, by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). She was lauded for her dedication to a number of charitable organizations, the poor and members of Jamaica’s working class, as well as her contribution to Jamaica’s politics.
The Key to the City is the highest honour that the KSAC can bestow on a citizen and it is conferred on distinguished persons and honoured guests and seeks to recognise outstanding civic contributors.
Lady Bustamante, widow of late National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante (first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica and trade unionist), became Jamaica’s First Lady at Independence 1962. She played an integral part in the formation of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, (BITU) for which she has been trustee since 1938. She is also Patron of the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, in his address, praised Lady B for her deportment and strength of character, which he said, made her invaluable to her husband throughout his life. In noting the strength of the Jamaican woman, which he said, Lady B exemplified, the Governor-General stated that, Jamaica has been blessed with women who have carried the burden of being caregivers and nurturers, as well as being the voice of wisdom that guided their husbands and offspring.
Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson hailed Lady B as the founding mother of Jamaica, “one deserving the honour being bestowed on her”. She said Lady B was to be congratulated for being in the “vanguard of women who have made an impact on national life, making note of her success in what was virtually a man’s world.”
Leader of the Opposition, Edward Seaga described the former first Lady as a true lady, who had become an icon of Jamaican history and a part of the political fabric. “Today we honour her as the widow (of Sir Alexander), but also as Lady B in her own right.”
“Lady B goes beyond that personage of being widow, wife, helpmate, soul mate, to us, she is the mother of the nation, a symbol or womanhood that we cannot in any way overlook or forget,” he said. Her conduct was at all times exemplary, he noted, and added that Jamaicans would do well to adopt her sterling example.
Vice President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Pearnel Charles, said there was no doubt that Lady B was deserving of the honour being bestowed on her as a result of her record contribution to civic development. He said she was renown for her total dedication to her husband.
“Jamaica has been blessed with a cadre of women freedom fighters who are not prepared to simply lend support to civic activities behind the scenes, instead, they’ve shed the mantle of femininity with all its nuances and weaknesses and stood on the frontline of our battle for freedom and deliverance without consideration for their own welfare,” he said, noting that, of all the women who should be saluted for making this kind of contribution, Lady B “claimed pride of place among them”.
The citation, written by Senator Anthony Johnson and read by the Town Clerk, Errol Green, highlighted Lady B’s contribution to national life by dedicating her time and intellect for the advancement of Jamaica and its citizens.
Lady B has in recent times been honoured by the State of Florida, Los Angeles, New York, and Venezuela for her contribution. She was also invested with the Order of Jamaica in 1982.
Also in attendance were, Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe, Custos of Kingston Reverend Canon Weeville Gordon; the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, Reverend Alfred Reid; former Mayor of Kingston, Marie Atkins, as well as the diplomatic corps, members of parliament and several councillors.
Lieutenant Commander John McFarlane, the Jamaica Military Band as well as the National Housing Trust Chorale serenaded Lady B. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission also performed an original piece titled, ‘The Lady Beside the Man’.

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