On a perfect weather morning, attendees of the floral tribute to Jamaica’s first Prime Minister were comfortable. We all joined to celebrate the one hundred and thirty-eighth anniversary of the birth of one of our national heroes. To emphasize the point, the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante pioneered many aspects of our history. In attendance were many dignitaries, including the Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen, Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, Olivia Grange and many others.
Minister Grange brought remarks through an informative and passionate speech about Sir Bustamante. Many aspects of our history go unmentioned unless brought up by our close friends and family. The information that Minister Grange delivered fit perfectly in that description. In her speech, she paid attention to Bustamante’s firsts. For example, she stated that he was “the first to form a successful trade union BITU in 1938. [He was] the first political labour leader to be placed in detention camp, as he defended the rights of the people. The first political party leader to win general elections under universal adult suffrage when he led the Jamaica Labour Party to victory.” There are too many firsts to mention in this short article. It’s important to realize that there are many other compelling facts about Sir Alexander. Consequently, they should intrigue you in doing fulfilling research.
The Peoples’ Bustamante
Minister Grange also talked about the man himself through the words of many others. That is to say, she reminded us that even his rival, the Right Excellent Norman Manley had great things to say about Sir Alexander. At one point the Minister quoted a writing by Normal Manley about Sir Alexander. The words are as follows; “Many countries have had the misfortune to throw up unworthy leaders. Jamaica was fortunate to throw up amongst its leaders one man. Sir Alexander who gave confidence to the masses and people of this country. Who won their affection and love to the most extraordinary degree and their loyalty. Who proved afterwards by the whole course of his life that he had accepted the responsibilities of that time, and grown in stature with them as the years past.”
A man who grew popular for his gift of gab, Sir Bustamante was a people’s person like no other. In particular, his skill with words won him accolades from around the globe. But, for Bustamante there were no better accolades than the ones he got from his own people. He was for them, and loved that they returned that love for him. His amazing physical stature was only over shadowed by his magnetic personality.
There were eleven floral tributes in all. Although the number does not have a specific purpose, it indicates just how many groups made themselves available to contribute to the tribute. The sitting Governor-General to the president of Young Jamaica proudly presented flowers at the shrine to the nations’ National Hero.
Thanks to the instrumental harmony of the Jamaica Military Band, Laud Dance Ministry and the melody of the Ensemble, Master of Ceremonies, Stacy-Ann Smith had an easy flowing programme to guide.
The morning’s event was fitting for one of our National Heroes, the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante.