A series of moving sculptures commemorates the Jamaican National Heroes. Nestled in downtown Kingston is the welcoming tranquil space of National Heroes Park. The park has had a lively history and for over one hundred years was variously used as a racecourse and site for the occasional visiting circus. However, since 1973 this special space has been honouring Jamaican National Heroes, former Prime Ministers and other celebrated Jamaicans – who are interned to the north of the park.
1. The Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante.
Sir Alexander Bustamante was a statesmen, a politician, labour leader, defender of the poor and the first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica. One of the architects of modern Jamaica and a founder of the Jamaica Labour Party. Through the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union he led the fight for workers and their families forging better living standards and job security. He was instrumental in launching the political revolution of 1930 that ushered in a new era in Jamaican history.
2. The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley.
Often referred to as the “father of nationalist movement” and “founder of the People’s National Party,” Norman Washington Manley was a statesman, lawyer and visionary. In addition to dedicating himself to the cause of the workers during the 1938 labour troubles, Manley is credited with leading the team that negotiated Jamaica’s independence from Britain. He became Jamaica’s National Hero in 1969.
3. The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Garvey exemplifies the spirit of Jamaican national heroes. With his rallying cry, “Up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will,” Marcus Mosiah Garvey inspired Black people throughout the world to have a sense of pride in their African heritage. As a Black nationalist and political thinker, he was deeply concerned about the living and working conditions of his people. Garvey died in England in 1940 and was buried there. In 1964, his remains were brought to Jamaica and re-interred at the site of his monument in National Heroes Park. Garvey’s legacy can be summed up in the philosophy he taught – race pride, the need for African unity; self-reliance; the need for black people to be organised and for rulers to govern on behalf of the working classes. For his works and the awakening he brought to black people, he was proclaimed Jamaica’s first National Hero in 1964.
4. The Right Excellent Nanny of the Maroons.
Nanny was leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th Century. Nanny was an outstanding military leader, skilled in guerrilla warfare practiced by the eastern Maroons to confuse the British. Said to have supernatural powers, Nanny was an important figure in the fight against the British during the first Maroon War 1720-1739. She led with courage and inspired in her warriors that special spirit of freedom and independence. Nanny was declared a Jamaican National Hero in 1975 and her portrait can be found on the $500 Jamaican dollar bill – colloquially known as a “Nanny”.
5. and 6. The Right Excellent George William Gordon and The Right Excellent Paul Bogle.
Two Jamaican National heroes, Paul Bogle a Baptist Deacon and George William Gordon a politician emerged as defenders of the rights of the poor and oppressed in the Post Emancipation era. It was a time of great hardship and injustice which resulted in a series of protests, culminating in the 1865 Morant Bay rebellion. Both Bogle and Gordon were arrested and executed for their role in the protest. But the protests proved a turning point in the nation’s history. Both men were named Jamaican National Heroes in 1969.
7. The Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe.
“I’d rather die on yonder gallows than live in slavery”, Samuel Sharpe, a Baptist deacon, was credited as the leader of the 1831 Christmas Rebellion in the western section of the island; which acted as a catalyst for the passage of the Abolition Bill in 1833, thus convincing the British government to end slavery on the island. Sharpe was hanged on May 23, 1832 for his role in the rebellion. The cross represents passivity and echoes Sam Sharpe’s religious beliefs. Sharpe was declared a Jamaican National Hero in 1975.
Text taken from NHP, Kingston moment signage.