JIS News

Residents of communities surrounding National Heroes Park will be coming out in their numbers on Labour Day, May 23, to participate in the cleaning and beautification of the historic site.

The park, the final resting place of many of Jamaica'snational heroes, prime ministers, and cultural leaders, is the national project for Labour Day 2012.

Education Minister and Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said the residents of the constituency, particularly the nearby Allman Town, use the park for relaxation, meditation, and for sports, and “I hope that what we do on Labour Day will help towards those objectives."

“We look forward to it becoming even more verdant with growing trees, more seats so we can come and use it, and more opportunities for the little children to play,” he said.

Minister Thwaites was speaking to JIS News following a recent tour of the park  with members of the Labour Day Planning Committee, to get a first hand look at its condition and to ascertain the scope of work to be done on Labour Day. 

The touring party included Principal Director of Culture, Ministry of Youth and Culture, Sydney Bartley; Senior Director of Urban and Regional Planning, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Marsha Henry-Martin and a representative of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT).

Work at the park will entail the planting of trees, installing of park benches, landscaping, washing and refurbishing of the shrines, rehabilitation of the walkways and enhancement of the entrance.

The Minister stated the monuments are “reasonably well kept”, some upgrading work needed to be done.

“Since this is the 120th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s birth, my view is that the people in the area would be excited to help to improve the conditions around his shrine,” he stated.

Following the tour, Chairperson of the Projects Sub-Committee, Dorothea Clarke, told JIS that there will be enough work for residents to do on Labour Day. However, she pointed out that workers will have to be properly supervised.

“We have to remember that we don’t want to do more harm than good because in trying to do well, we might end up doing harm; so we don’t want to have the place overcrowded. But, naturally, we want the people in the community to be a part of Labour Day work,” she said.

Mrs. Clarke said the work will be done in collaboration with the JNHT, the Jamaica Defence Force, Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

“We need to do some painting of the kerb walls, just to make Heroes Circle a place of peace and at the same time, honour our ancestors, who fought for us. We must never forget the sacrifices they made,” she said.

She said it would be fitting to carry out repairs to the monument of National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sam Sharpe, who was hanged on May 23, 1832, for his role in the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, which was instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery.

The National Heroes Park is the largest remaining open space in Kingston. It was formerly named George VI Memorial Park in memory of the George VI King of England, who died in 1952. After independence, the park was renamed National Heroes Park in honour of the nation’s National Heroes.

Labour Day 2012 is being celebrated under the theme: ‘Step forward…Make Jamaica Beautiful,’ with focus to be placed on the cleaning up of communities and public spaces.


By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS PRO