Steady stream of visitors to Manley's birthplace

Garfield Myers

Monday, March 10, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — There remains much to be done.

However, a museum established at the birthplace of National Hero Norman Washington Manley at Roxborough in central Manchester is attracting a steady stream of visitors curious to learn more about their country's history.

When the Jamaica Observer visited recently, a tour bus with students and teachers from Excelsior Community College (EXED) in Kingston had only just arrived.

The exhibits, including text and photographs, which capture varied aspects of the national hero's life as schoolboy sports hero, scholar, soldier in World War 1, advocate and political leader, drew plenty of attention.

The museum is accommodated in the partially restored house where Manley was born on July 4, 1893.

The young EXED visitors also found time to relax in the idyllic, pastoral surroundings with a panoramic view of sections of central and southern Manchester.

"It's very educational, there are so many things we didn't know... you may see stuff on TV but now you get the real feeling," one teenaged student told the Observer.

Carol Gordon, lecturer in Caribbean Studies who led the excursion, described herself as very impressed. "We know we going to be doing federation later on (as part of course work), didn't even know it (Manley's birthplace) was open... I wasn't sure what I was going to find, but wow! This is fantastic!" she said.

Tour guide Nardia Beckford said the opportunity to relate to visitors at Roxborough in recent months has given her new insights into the need for Jamaicans to learn more about their country, their history, and culture.

"Most of the students who come here are very interested and everybody wants to come back, but they don't know a lot ... even the teachers don't know, sometimes," she said.

Last year the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) spent $11 million, in partnership with a range of government agencies, to redevelop Manley's birthplace and establish the museum. The original house was destroyed by fire in 1968.

Planners hope to install a solar-based energy source at the museum and to, over time, develop a sophisticated visitor destination to host youth camps, weddings and a variety of other functions.





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