JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Michael Henry, has hailed former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, as a nation builder and cultural icon who was instrumental in advancing Jamaica’s creative industries.
  • Mr. Seaga, who was Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister, passed away on May 28 in a hospital in the United States where he was receiving treatment fir illness. He was 89 years old.
  • The former Prime Minister, whose body is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, June 2, has been accorded a State Funeral.

Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Michael Henry, has hailed former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, as a nation builder and cultural icon who was instrumental in advancing Jamaica’s creative industries.

“I was his junior Minister in the Ministry of Culture, and [worked with] him as Minister of State for Information when the Creative Production Training Centre was established and where the whole process of the transference of black and white television to colour [was initiated],” Mr. Henry shared.

Reflecting on Mr. Seaga’s life and contributions during an interview with JIS News, Mr. Henry said “when I made a decision to go into politics, I did so on the basis of Mr. Seaga’s history and what I came into contact with, in terms of seeking to serve my country”.

The Minister disclosed that he was inspired by Mr. Seaga’s strength of character and zeal to enhance the lives of Jamaica’s most vulnerable citizens.

“What attracted me was his love for the poor. Love in the sense of not leaving them poor, but moving them to the next stage of development,” he pointed out.

Mr. Henry noted that Mr. Seaga’s contribution to the development of music, literature and culture was significant, particularly to Afro centricity.

“That contribution is immeasurable. What we really need now is to see some of this implemented into today’s world, to be able to rebuild and remould the society the way that he himself had desired,” the Minister said.

In recounting fond memories of their interactions, Mr. Henry said he admired Mr. Seaga’s ability to adjust to and ignore some of the distractive issues, and continue along the path he thought should be or needed to be pursued.

Mr. Seaga, who was Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister, passed away on May 28 in a hospital in the United States where he was receiving treatment fir illness. He was 89 years old.

He was one of the key architects of Jamaica’s Constitution, which framed in 1961.

Mr. Seaga initiated a revision of the Human Rights section of the Constitution to provide for a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. He also created the Office of the Public Defender.

During the course of his political life, Mr. Seaga made a significant impact on Jamaica’s growth and development through the introduction of various programmes and the establishment of institutions across the social, cultural, political and financial landscapes.

These engagements started as early as 1961 with the establishment of Things Jamaican, which served to streamline activities within the local craft industry, and associated sectors.

Mr. Seaga was also instrumental in establishing the Jamaica Festival Movement, and spearheaded the repatriation of the remains of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey and his subsequent appointment as the country’s first National Hero.

The former Prime Minister also created the training institution, HEART Trust/NTA and established the Urban Development Corporation, Jamaica Stock Exchange, and Jamaica Unit Trust.

He was also was instrumental in establishing the Jamaica Mortgage Bank; Students’ Loan Bureau; National Development Bank; Agricultural Credit Bank; Jamaica National Investment Promotion Ltd., now Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO); and the Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank.

Mr. Seaga represented the constituency of West Kingston from 1962 until his retirement from active politics in 2005.

He subsequently accepted a position as Senior Research Fellow at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus, and was thereafter appointed Chancellor at the University of Technology in 2010.

Mr. Seaga also served as President of the Tivoli Gardens Football Club, and chaired the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA).

The former Prime Minister, whose body is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, June 2, has been accorded a State Funeral.