JIS News

Family and friends of labour organiser Westley Bartley, filled the Anglican Church of the Nativity in Toronto, Canada on Saturday, January 17 to pay their final respects to a man many described as a giant in Jamaica’s political and trade union life.
Mr. Bartlett, who was affectionately known as ‘Jomo Kenyatta’, died on January 6 at the age of 69. He was the National Workers Union (NWU) leader for sugar workers and a political organizer for the People’s National Party (PNP).
The thanksgiving service, officiated by Rev. Donald Butler and Rev. Paulette Brown, saw many paying tribute to Mr. Bartley with expressions of his for country and generosity and helpfulness to others.
Minister of National Security and Vice-President of the PNP, Dr. Peter Phillips, in a tribute read by Dr. Frederick McIntosh said, “Jomo represented the best of Jamaican society. He loved and provided for his family, but most of all, he spent his life in the service of his people. His commitment to party was rooted in a well-developed vision of a more equitable Jamaica, in which the primacy of the interest of the working class and other historically disadvantaged groups were well recognized.”
Delivering the eulogy, journalist Philip Mascoll described Mr. Bartley as his “friend, mentor, brother and lecturer in the university of life, an institution in which he held a Phd.”
Born in Main Ridge, Clarendon in 1935, Mr. Bartley attended the Frankfield primary and secondary schools. Even though he migrated to Quebec, Canada in the late 1960s, the pull of Jamaica was very strong and he has been an organizer in every general election since 1972 except for the 2002 election.
He was very much into his African roots and wanted a name that indicated his African heritage. “He would often say Westley Bartley is my slave name but Jomo Kenyatta is the name I choose for myself; my free choice,” noted Mr. Mascoll.
A message from Jamaica’s Minister of Information, Burchell Whiteman noted that Mr. Bartley gave generously of himself and had left behind a proud record of service to his country.
High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency Carl Marshall, in his tribute, described Mr. Bartley as a social and political advocate who believed that Jamaicans should occupy a special place in history. “He always believed that no other country with a population as small as Jamaica’s has impacted the world as much. Jomo tried to instill in Jamaicans the importance of community, of selflessness, of knowing who we are and demonstrating the convictions that we can reclaim what is ours,” the High Commissioner stated.
Other tributes came from Paul Burke and sons-in-law Lundie Richards and Garth Grant. One of Mr. Bartley’s children, Arlene Grant, thanked the friends of her father who were present and said she wanted the ceremony to be a celebration of his life and his accomplishments and not a mournful event. Speaking directly to her siblings, she challenged them to remember the words of their father: “You are great – do not limit yourselves. Remove that limit and fly for yourselves and your family. Each generation must be better than the last.”
A bursary has been established in memory of Westley Bartley at the University of the West Indies. It will be awarded to students studying Political Science and Trade Unionism. Mr. Bartley’s body was laid to rest at the St. Margaret’s in the Pines Cemetery. A memorial service was held in Jamaica on Wednesday, January 21 in Pennants, Clarendon.

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