Hundreds of persons trekked to Blenheim, Hanover, Wednesday (February 24), to participate in a Civic Ceremony commemorating the 126th anniversary of the birth of The Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, National Hero.
Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, represented the Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding, who is currently attending the Mexico-Caricom summit in Cancun.
The colourful and exciting ceremony attracted a wide cross-section of Jamaicans, including teachers, students, political and union representatives, as well as representatives from the public and private sectors. Chairman of the proceedings was Councillor Easton Edwards of the Lucea division.
Taking part were: Mayor of Lucea, Councillor Lloyd Hill, who gave the welcome; Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Caretaker for Western Hanover, Donovan Hamilton, who brought greetings on behalf of the party; Vice President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Alden Brown, gave a reflection on “Busta: The Nation Builder” on behalf of the union; and Custos of Hanover, Dr David Stair, gave a reflection on “Busta: The people person.” Tributes in dance, speech and music were also presented by several schools from the parish.
Dr. Chang, who gave the main speech, described Sir Alexander, as a “leader extraordinaire”, with a sharp mind, quick wit and charisma that endeared him to many.
He said that the people of Jamaica and, more specifically, residents of Blenheim, Hanover, the district of Sir Alexander’s birth, must feel a deep sense of pride in claiming such a great Jamaican as one of their own.
“His was a life that inspired and motivated a set of powerless people to recognize and embrace their own power, forcing the social revolution that transformed the Jamaican landscape, at that time,” Dr. Chang stated.
He said that the life and contributions of Sir Alexander must be jealously guarded and treasured, and never be allowed to slip from the nation’s memory.
Mr. Brown recalled the late hero as the person who “openly attacked the bastions of privilege and exploitation and blazed a path to a new social order”, in which the rights of the workers were secured.
Dr. Stair, in his reflections on Sir Alexander, highlighted the level of patriotism, willingness to serve the less fortunate, and also the trait of sharing and caring that was exhibited by him.
“This was a life that we, today, can learn from,” he stated.
The Hanover Custos made a plea for Jamaicans not to allow their fears to prevent them from reaching out to the less fortunate. He also expressed the view that the people’s survival, as individuals, depends on their concern for others.
Following the Civic Ceremony, the guests toured the house in which Sir Alexander was born, which is being maintained by the Jamaican National Heritage Trust (JNHT).
Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante O.N. G.B.E., P.C., was born on February 24, 1884. He was founder of both the Jamaica Labour Party (1943) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) (1938). He was Jamaica’s first Chief Minister, elected at the first General Election under Adult Sufferage in 1944, and became Jamaica’s first Prime Minister at Independence in August, 1962. He died on the 15th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence, August 6, 1977.