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Remembering September 18, 1938

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dear Editor,

With the People's National Party (PNP) Annual Conference coming up this month, and that organisation's 80th anniversary celebration in progress, it is appropriate for Jamaicans to take a retrospective look at that noble party and recall when it was launched on September 18, 1938.

First of all, in August 1938 O T Fairclough took the responsibility on himself to travel across Jamaica to recruit the foundation members of the PNP from a number of other established organisations at the time. Consequently, some 50 delegates were selected from which a steering committee was appointed, comprising several distinguished individuals.

This steering committee included Norman Manley as chairman, accountant O T Fairclough as secretary, teacher H P Jacobs, lawyer N N Nethersole, Reverend O G Penso, architectural draftsman W G McFarlane, as well as Florizel Glasspole and Howard Cooke who eventually were installed as governors general.

It is understood that a massive crowd of enthusiastic Jamaicans with different political beliefs and from all walks of life turned out at Ward Theatre for the party's formal launch on September 18, 1938.

As the crowd cheered and clapped, the first chairman of the PNP, Norman Manley, along with guest speaker Sir Stafford Cripps, a British Labour Party Member of Parliament at the time, got ready to deliver their inaugural messages.

The visionary chairman of the newly-formed PNP, Norman Manley, elaborated that there was a new era in Jamaica's history and emphasised how a radical change was about to take place in the country. The huge crowd listened attentively. He also pointed out that the creation of the new political party was a team effort, which in the future must be emulated by other generations.

Cripps was of the view that the formation of a political party such as the PNP was a progressive step forward, which he believed was one of the most significant events in the history of Jamaica at that time.

Certainly, the PNP has come a long way over these 80 years since its inception on September 18, 1938, and with much firmness of purpose the present leadership has the capacity to elevate and transform modern Jamaica.


Valentine Pearson

Montego Bay, St James