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Pilgrimage to Roxborough

Monday, July 17, 2017

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Scores of people turned out for the annual pilgrimage to Roxborough, six miles south of this south-central town on July 4, to mark the 124th anniversary of the birth of National Hero Norman Washington Manley.

A brilliant scholar, athlete, soldier, lawyer and statesman, Manley and his cousin and political rival, National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante, are often considered the chief architects of modern Jamaica.

Manley was the founding president of the People's National Party (PNP) and played lead roles in the framing of Jamaica's Constitution, modernisation of the Jamaican economy and education system in the 1950s and early 60s, and in the negotiation of Jamaica's political independence from Britain in 1962.

As is usual on July 4 at Manley's birthplace — which in recent years has evolved into a museum — the National Hero's life was celebrated in music and song and rich tributes flowed from the lips of community and national leaders.

Custos of Manchester Sally Porteous described Manley as a “noble” man who was “unafraid to do the right thing” and Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for Manchester North Eastern Audley Shaw said Manley's life provided an example of “personal discipline, integrity and excellence”.

Former National Security minister and Member of Parliament for Manchester Central Peter Bunting hailed Manley's integrity and selflessness, as opposed to the example of some modern politicians, whom he claimed were sometimes “driven by narcissism and the desire for personal gain”.

Guest speaker, Dr Ahmed Reid, Assistant Professor in History, City University, New York recalled Manley's cautionary advice to Jamaicans in the 1960s that their lives continue to be affected by their history of colonialism and slavery.

In a comprehensive presentation Reid tracked the effects of the past on modern Jamaica. “Colonialism,” Reid told his audience, “has in many ways disfigured us”. The cultural fallout from slavery and colonialism was something Jamaicans and their leaders would have to confront, he said.

Further, he argued, there was a clear case for Jamaicans and all descendants of slaves in the Caribbean and the Americas to unrelentingly press for reparations.

— Garfield Myers

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