JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Residents of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston turned out today (June 10), to pay their respects to the former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, at the Lying-in-State of his body at the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre.
  • The former Prime Minister, who died on May 28, represented them as Member of Parliament from 1962 to 2005.
  • Mourners, some of whom were decked in full black, flooded the entrance of the Centre with the hope of glimpsing the closed casket with the remains of Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister, and his medals that were on display.

Residents of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston turned out today (June 10), to pay their respects to the former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, at the Lying-in-State of his body at the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre.

The former Prime Minister, who died on May 28, represented them as Member of Parliament from 1962 to 2005.

Mourners, some of whom were decked in full black, flooded the entrance of the Centre with the hope of glimpsing the closed casket with the remains of Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister, and his medals that were on display.

Delores Williams, one of the mourners, told JIS News that she came to pay her respects because Mr. Seaga helped to make life better for persons living in the inner-city communities of West Kingston, and started revivalism.

“When I was a young girl, Mr. Seaga came to Salt Lane [where I lived] and started revivalism. Mr. Seaga is a legend. He has done so much for me. As a young girl, Mr. Seaga taught me that he can help me to get a job, but he can’t help me to keep it,” Ms. Williams said.

She added that Mr. Seaga ensured her family received a house in Tivoli Gardens, which not only provided shelter but a safe space for her family, which consisted only of females at that time.

Another West Kingston resident, Joan Williams, said she will always remember Mr. Seaga for the assistance he gave residents to find jobs decades ago.

“When we could not get jobs, because our résumés had ‘Tivoli’, Mr. Seaga built factories for us to work in and Garmex HEART Academy on Marcus Garvey Drive,” Ms. Williams said.

“Mr. Seaga also gave my family our first house in Tivoli Gardens. Mr. Seaga was not born here, but he did great things for Jamaica. Mr. Seaga built Jamaica. He is a legend,” she added.

Marcia King, a resident of Tivoli Gardens, recalled Mr. Seaga as a man of passion. “He was a caring man. He was concerned about people. There was nothing too hard for him that you could not go to him and talk about. Mr. Seaga was a legend to West Kingston. We will always remember him,” he said.

Antonio Daley said he is pleased with the way in which Mr. Seaga led the nation when he served not only as Member of Parliament but as Prime Minister.

“As a young man growing up in Jamaica, Mr. Seaga has always been the leader that I adore. When I look at his history, of how he has transformed this area [Tivoli Gardens] into what it is today’ plenty respect goes out to the man. I strongly believe that Mr. Seaga truly loved the people of Jamaica,” Mr. Daley said.

Keisha Simms said Mr. Seaga helped her through some hard times in her life.

“I loved Mr. Seaga so dearly. When my mother died, he was there for us. He never leave us. He was there, and I am here to pay my last respects to him,” she said.

Another resident from Tivoli Gardens, Karen Linton, who was emotionally distressed because of the loss, said Mr. Seaga “did great things for the community of Tivoli Gardens”.

“He made the community what it is right now. He will be really missed, truly missed,” she said.

Present to comfort mourners and to also pay his last respects, was Chaplain for the West Kingston constituency, Minister Shemar Miller, who recalled Mr. Seaga as a very distinguished man.

“Mr. Seaga was very influential to this community [of West Kingston]. In the future, I want to be like Mr. Seaga, based on his outstanding contribution to nation building,” he said.

Mr. Seaga’s legacy in shaping the country’s political history began at age 29, when in 1959, founder of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Sir Alexander Bustamante, nominated him to serve in the Upper House of Parliament – the Legislative Council (later the Senate). Mr. Seaga was the youngest member to be appointed to serve in this capacity.

After winning his seat as MP in 1962, Mr. Seaga was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of Development and Welfare. Following the 1967 General Election, he was appointed Minister of Finance and Planning and in 1974 became the Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), a capacity in which he served for 30 years.

Mr. Seaga became Prime Minister following the General Election of October 30, 1980. The JLP again took the helm of Government at the 1983 General Election and Mr. Seaga remained Prime Minister until February 1989.

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 sectors.

Starting from as early as 1961 with Things Jamaican, Mr. Seaga also established the Jamaica Festival Movement, and spearheaded the repatriation of Marcus Garvey and his 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.

Also to his credit is the creation of 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 EXIM Bank.

His interventions to enhance the lives of the most vulnerable were perhaps the areas in which Mr. Seaga made the most resounding impact.

In the 1960s, Mr. Seaga transformed his West Kingston constituency, then known as ‘Back-O-Wall’ into a modern, low-income residential community. It was renamed Tivoli Gardens and remains a model of successful urban community development.