JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Students are being encouraged to apply to their own lives key lessons from Caribbean giants such as Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo.
  • Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, urged the students to eschew selfishness and pursue ways to serve and build each other.
  • The Minister pointed out that Garvey’s choice created a more far-reaching impact on the lives of others.

Students are being encouraged to apply to their own lives key lessons from Caribbean giants such as National Hero, the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo.

Speaking on Friday, February 28, at Garvey Maceo High in Clarendon, which was the Ministry of Education’s focal institution for this year’s Jamaica Day celebrations, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, urged the students to eschew selfishness and pursue ways to serve and build each other.

“Selfishness is not the way to happiness and joy. Rather it is self giving that makes the difference. And that, after all, was the message of Garvey and Maceo,” the Education Minster said.

Garvey, he said, could have had a career as a successful black man, who yielded to the colonial reality of his time, but he chose a different path.

“He could have ignored or patronized or given charity to those of his own race. Instead he stood up for their independence, their dignity and for the rights that had so long been denied them. And he suffered and went to prison for that, but it didn’t matter to him, because what he was doing was serving a cause that was much broader and higher than his own,” Minister Thwaites said.

The Minister pointed out that Garvey’s choice created a more far-reaching impact on the lives of others than he would likely have had if he had used his resources to serve himself.

“He didn’t know that one day a school would be named after him or that he would be called a national hero in his land. He was a prophet without honour even in his own land for many decades,” Mr. Thwaites stated.

Explaining the contribution of Antonio Maceo, he noted that he gave of himself in the Cuban Revolution. He also informed that Maceo was born of a woman who lived in Jamaica.

“His navel string is embedded in Jamaica and the 90 miles that separates our two countries cannot break the bond of solidarity and the dream of freedom and the work we must do to blend our people together as they were in the past,” the Education Minister argued.

He pointed out that the school was built through the generosity of the Cuban people at time of great challenge.

“In the midst of their own need, when they themselves could have used many more schools they extended their hand to their brothers and sisters, speaking a language hardly known to any of them in their lifetimes and decided that their contribution would be to enhance education that they value so much, right here in Jamaica. We must never forget the gift that we have,” Minister Thwaites emphasized.

Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, who brought greetings, underscored that both Garvey and Maceo fought very hard for the “sovereignty of Jamaica and Cuba.”

He said the school represents the solidarity and friendship between the two countries, and to be a student or teacher there should inspire pride.

Meanwhile, University of the West Indies Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Dr. K’adamawe K’nife, in his presentation titled ‘Small Businesses, Great Nation: Lessons from Garvey and Maceo’, noted that the foremost things that should come to mind when thinking of Garvey are business, independence, confidence in self.

He pointed out that one of the things about Marcus Garvey is that he never had doubts about himself as a young person. “He was clear in his mind as to what he wanted to get done,” Dr. K’nife said.

Encouraging the students to apply those lessons to the Jamaican reality, he pointed to similarities between the business environment which existed in the country in 1914 and now, where preparations are being made for the development of a logistics hub.

“There is going to be a Logistics hub and the thinking is that there are going to be a lot of ships going there. Marcus Garvey in 1914 started the United Negro Improvement Association. In 1914 the Panama Canal opened as well, which means that as a young person, early 20s, Marcus Garvey recognized that shipping was going to be a very important thing in the world. He was saying, ‘how can we, as a people, establish our own shipping company.’ Jamaica today faces the same situation, because there are plans to increase shipping. But we need to be asking ourselves, are we planning to start our own shipping company?” he asked.

He urged principals not to depend solely on the Ministry of Education to fund some of the projects that teachers and students will engineer, but to find ways to get them going through innovation.

Dr. K’nife also reiterated the importance of small businesses noting that “it’s not only about big businesses. Marcus Garvey was also thinking about micro, small and medium enterprises.”

He urged students to look closely at where the needs are in the country, and find ways to fulfill them. He also advised them against turning their backs on farming, telling them that “farming is a multi-billion dollar sector, however, your generation is different and there is nothing wrong with you wanting to apply technology to farming.”

Jamaica Day is observed on the last Friday in February or the third Friday, if the last one falls on a public holiday. It celebrates the uniqueness and greatness of the country and people. The theme for 2014 was “Celebrating Jamaica: Sporting Greatness in My Community”.