PJ Patterson launches My Political Journey

Friday Social

Friday, December 14, 2018

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The Grand Jamaica Suite at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel hosted the launch of former Prime Minister PJ Patterson's highly anticipated memoir PJ Patterson: My Political Journey on Wednesday. Close to 500 guests came out to support the elder statesman and secure copies of the 416-page book that chronicles Patterson's life from humble beginnings in Hanover to becoming a highly respected statesman. The book was published by the University of the West Indies Press and proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the university's Mona campus.

The event was first-class and befitting that of a former prime minister. Master of Ceremonies Mike Fennell handled the formalities with aplomb tickling funny bones along the way. Patterson received tributes from compatriots, comrades and regional leaders, all who hold him in high esteem. Tributes were delivered by former members of his Cabinet Burchell Whiteman and Maxine Henry-Wilson, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies Hilary Beckles, and a special video tribute from Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley. Speaking of video tributes, there were a number of well-produced digital vignettes (one included former Cuban President Fidel Castro extolling Patterson) that punctuated the guest speakers, giving texture and context to Patterson's multi-faceted life. Many in the audience gleaned for the first time that he was once the manager of the ska band The Skatalites, his maternal grandfather was Sir William Bustamante's headmaster and his umbilical cord is buried under an otaheite apple tree six miles from the site where Bustamante led the British West Indian labour unrest — Frome Estate Sugar Plantation.

Patterson is also a music lover and opted to have Dean Fraser and the Desi Jones band perform during the book launch. The Jamaican jazz numbers not only heightened the celebratory atmosphere but were also poetic representations of Patterson's career. Governmental leadership in many ways is like jazz. With jazz, each player almost has an individualistic approach to his instrument but, once put together, the disparate gets united. With leadership, the needs of that leader's country are paramount and the head of state has to keep his or her cards close to the chest. But working together with regional and international leaders allows for effectuating change that's resounding. Whether it was Caricom, CARIFTA, the G77, the Commonwealth Heads of Government, or the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Patterson kept Jamaica's needs at the fore while supporting the advancement of developing nations around the world.

It may seem interesting that a man who lived by the words “silence cannot be misquoted” has become an author. But Patterson knows that it would be a disservice to Jamaica and the region were he not to pen this memoir. From managing Michael Manley's successful 1969 campaign for the presidency of the People's National Party to leaving his office as Jamaica's sixth prime minister in 2006, Patterson's career has known both victory and defeat. This statesman is “Jamaican by birth but Caribbean by nature” and this book, as Mottley said, “will add value to all who live in the developing world”.

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