The role of Jamaica’s first Prime Minister, National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante in enhancing the island’s cultural tourism product was boosted last Friday, unveiling a life-sized statue of him on the front lawn of the Hanover Parish Library in Lucea.
The significance of the event was highlighted by several speakers, headed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who spearheaded the unveiling. While the statue was the brainchild of Member of Parliament for Hanover Western, Tamika Davis, it was grant funded by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to the tune of $3-million under its Spruce Up Pon De Corner Programme.
TPDCo’s Director of Product Development and Community Tourism, Lionel Myrie explained that part of its role was to diversify and enhance Jamaica’s tourism product.
“Our heritage is an important aspect of what makes us unique, and in addition to our service excellence, we can leverage our uniqueness to distinguish brand Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Myrie said diversification was important as tourism markets were changing, life was evolving, and research had shown that the new and emerging traveller was looking for more than sun, sea, and sand, with the new traveller looking for authentic experiences which will take them into the heart of the nation.
He disclosed that recently TPDCo installed several storyboards in Western Jamaica under its Heritage Story Boards project. Among the locations are the Mannings School, Roaring River, Seaford Town, and Savanna-La-Mar Port, in Westmoreland; the Rastafari
Indigenous Village, Rose Hall, Greenwood Great Houses in St. James, and Hanover, at the Tryall Water Wheel, Fort Charlotte, Kenilworth and Blenheim, the birthplace of Sir Alexander Bustamante. Prime Minister Holness noted that the unveiling of Sir
Alex’s statue and highlighting his contribution to Jamaica came on the heels of the country’s 60th anniversary of independence, and he traced his journey from championing the cause of workers through the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the Jamaica Labour Party, both of which he founded. The Bustamante monument captures his early life and features a bare-chested
Busta standing fearlessly and complemented by two storyboards in the form of two extra-large books opened to pages telling his story.
Mr. Holness said, “This monument provides an opportunity for the local community and other citizens, and visitors to the island to learn and appreciate the first prime minister of independence and our national hero.”
Underscoring the importance of monuments, Prime Minister Holness bemoaned that they were not well appreciated as they should and were seen as “a waste of money”.
He defended the value of putting up historically significant monuments and improving the value for civic administration and for the country’s heritage.
He said there was a lack of understanding in the public discourse about what these things meant, “and that speaks to how we see our nation, how we see our government and how important is our history,” he said. Prime Minister Holness indicated that more historical monuments would be erected nationwide.
The Bustamante monument complements a replica of his birth home at Blenheim.
Lucea square is also named after him. The monument was also welcomed by the Mayor of Lucea, Councillor Sheridan Samuels and Director General, Jamaica Library Service, Maureen Thompson. Regional Director for the Jamaica Library Service Marvetta Stewart-Richards, in her vote of thanks, sought to justify the statue’s location on the library grounds.
She said the Hanover Parish Library was one of first public buildings to be erected after Jamaica gained independence. Also, the first foundation stone was laid by the first British High Commissioner of Jamaica, the foundation was dedicated by Jamaica’s first native Governor General, and the building was opened by the first prime minister of independent Jamaica, Sir Alexander Bustamante.
The statue was blessed by Bishop Robert Williams of the Lucea New Testament Church of God and the audience entertained by saxophonist Daniel-John Jackson and a cultural performance from the Green Island Ettu Group.
The statue and storyboards, created to commemorate the life and work of the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, was designed and sculpted by Scheed Cole, Director of Sculptural Elements and Construction 001 Limited, a creative arts company with about 20 years of experience in providing sculptural solutions for attractions, branding, marketing, and events. It utilises resin and recycled waste.