JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The mourners, most of whom were dressed in black, white and green, said although they were not unable to go inside the church or the church yard, it would be remiss if they did not stand on the streets surrounding the church to say goodbye.
  • “He was one of the best Prime Ministers because of the things he did for the poor. He built houses and helped to provide education. The day he died, it was his birthday, and in the morning I posted his photo in my Whatsapp status for his birthday. When I heard he died that day, I cried. I literally cried because I respected that man so much,” Ms. Morgan told JIS News.    
  • The former Prime Minister died on May 28 at a hospital in the United States where he was receiving treatment.  He was 89 years old.  

Hundreds of mourners whose lives were impacted by the leadership and contribution of former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, flooded the streets surrounding the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown, Kingston, during his State funeral, on Sunday (June 23), to pay their last respects.

The mourners, most of whom were dressed in black, white and green, said although they were not unable to go inside the church or the church yard, it would be remiss if they did not stand on the streets surrounding the church to say goodbye.

One of the mourners, Mr. Michael Robinson, who is an artist and past student of Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, said Mr. Seaga was one of the first persons who invested in his talent and encouraged him.

That investment permitted him the opportunity to receive tertiary level certification, travel to other countries and show his work to the world, and for this, he is forever grateful.

“I am from the community of Denham Town [one of the communities of West Kingston where Mr. Seaga served as the Member of Parliament for 43 years], and I was sponsored by Mr. Seaga to attend Edna Manley in 1995. He did a lot for Jamaica. I am a self-taught artist with painting and he invested in my talent,” Mr. Robinson told JIS News.

“That investment has allowed me to travel to a lot of cities and countries, such as Belgium, Germany, United States of America and many more,” he said.

Another mourner, Mr. Shawn McNamee, told JIS News that he loved Mr. Seaga as much as he loves his parents.

“He implemented a lot of institutions in this country, which have benefitted a lot of my friends. He implemented the HEART Trust/NTA and I have a lot of friends who went to the Runaway Bay HEART Academy, been trained as chefs and now they are working on ships all over the world. That’s a big thing for me,” he said.

Coronation Market Vendor, Ms. Pauline Johnson, who has been selling for over 30 years, said Mr. Seaga ensured market vendors were comfortable when he served as Prime Minister. That was her main reason for standing in the streets to pay her final respects before he was laid to rest.

“He has done a lot for Jamaica. He saw to it that we [the market vendors] were all taken care of,” she  said.

Mr. Fitzroy Graham recalled Mr. Seaga as a good Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for West Kingston.

“He has done work that many still don’t know about. Since his death, I am actually surprised at many things I am hearing that he did. He was always there for poor people. We will never stop loving him and that’s why we’re here to pay our last respects,” Mr. Graham said.

Another mourner, Terri-Ann Morgan, who travelled to Kingston from St. Elizabeth, said watching the State funeral on television would not be enough for her. She had to attend the funeral, even if it meant she had to stand in the street and watch it on a screen near the church.

“He was one of the best Prime Ministers because of the things he did for the poor. He built houses and helped to provide education. The day he died, it was his birthday, and in the morning I posted his photo in my Whatsapp status for his birthday. When I heard he died that day, I cried. I literally cried because I respected that man so much,” Ms. Morgan told JIS News.

Mourner, Mr. Henry Anderson, said he has fond memories of Mr. Seaga when he served as Prime Minister and visited his community in St. Thomas.

“When my mother was alive, she loved him because of what he did for us in the community, so I had no choice but to love him too,” Mr. Anderson said.

Sisters, Sharon Campbell and Veronica Mills, who embraced each other on the streets, said Mr. Seaga positively impacted their lives when they were younger, and even though one was not feeling well, they braved the heat from the sun, and came out to pay their last respects.

“He did what he could [for us]. Many came after, and have not done what he did. He built houses for poor people, he built schools, he built health centres and assisted the hospitals, both in Kingston and rural parishes. He was a great man and for that I respect him,” Ms. Campbell told JIS News.

Her sister gave a more personalised recollection of his contribution to her life. “When I lived in St. Mary as a young girl, I never forgot how he built a clinic for my community. He helped us to get water and electricity. I also remembered how he helped me to get a piece of land, and for that, I had to come out and pay my last respects today,” Ms. Mills said.

Mr. Seaga served as Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989 and was also a member of the first Parliament of independent Jamaica.

He also served as Member of Parliament for West Kingston, where Denham Town and Tivoli Gardens are located, for 43 years.

The former Prime Minister died on May 28 at a hospital in the United States where he was receiving treatment.  He was 89 years old.

Mr. Seaga was buried in National Heroes Park.