MANDEVILLE — Residents of Manchester converged at the birthplace of the Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley in Roxborough on Monday July 4, 2011 for a civic ceremony to commemorate the 118th anniversary of the National Hero’s birth.
Organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), the ceremony featured tributes in song, dance, and poetry from cultural groups and festival of the arts winners, while civic leaders and politicians gave speeches on his life and work and contribution to modern Jamaica.
Principal of the May Day High School in Manchester, Sandford Davis, said that Manley epitomised excellence and called on Jamaicans to emulate his example to achieve the transformation the country needs.
“He was excellent in all that he did; excellent in sport, excellent in academics, and in everything that he touched. Our country should be very proud of having such a person. We should emulate Norman Manley and if we do 10 per cent of what he did, I believe Jamaica would be a better place for all,” he stated.
Mayor of Mandeville, Councillor Brenda Ramsay, agreed that if more people adopted and practised the values of Norman Manley “I am sure they would aspire to quality achievements, honesty, integrity, pride in being Jamaicans, and to working for the betterment of self, fellowmen and country”.
In his remarks, Acting Custos of Manchester, Calvin Lyn, said the life and work of Norman Manley should inspire Jamaicans to “do as much as we can to build this country”.
“I believe that some of us, who are in public life, whether through politics or through social offices, would have seen some of what he did and would more or less have been encouraged to give service,” he noted.
Guest speaker at the function was former Cabinet Minister, Arnold Bertram, who chronicled Manley’s life from Roxborough to Bellemount in St. Catherine, his service in the British Army, political career, and his professional as a lawyer.
The Rt. Excellent Norman Manley was born on July 4, 1893, and died on September 2, 1969.
A Rhodes Scholar, who studied law at Oxford University, he was enlisted and fought in the First World War in the Royal Field Artillery, and later returned to Jamaica to serve as a barrister.
During the 1938 labour unrest in Jamaica, he donated time and advocacy to the cause of the workers.
In September 1938, Manley founded the People's National Party (PNP) and was elected its President annually until his retirement in 1969, 31 years later.
The National Hero, who served as premier from 1959 to 1962, led the demand for universal adult suffrage, which was implemented in 1944.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS, JIS Reporter