MoBay mayor calls for Sam Sharpe to be taught in schools
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, lays a floral arrangement at the statue of National Hero, The Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe during the  annual Floral Tribute ceremony held in Sam Sharpe Square on Labour Day, Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Photo: JIS

ST JAMES, Jamaica - Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, is calling for more Jamaicans to learn about National Hero, the Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe, and for teachings about his life and work to be incorporated in the school curriculum.

Williams said that the legacy of the National Hero, affectionately known as “Daddy Sharpe” is “much too precious for us to only pay respects twice per year (on Labour Day and in December). The time has come for more focus to be placed on the work and worth of this great Jamaican”.

“It is my distinct hope that soon and very soon literature will encapsulate the work of Sam Sharpe and will become part of our education system. This will allow our students from an early age to appreciate what Daddy Sharpe did in winning freedom and liberation for Jamaicans. We already have the teachings of Marcus Garvey; why can’t we have the teachings of Sam Sharpe – Sam Sharpe the Baptist or Sam Sharpe the revolutionary?” he asked.

Mayor Williams was addressing the annual Labour Day floral tribute for the historical figure in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay, on Tuesday.

Labour Day 2023 marks the 191st anniversary of the National Hero’s hanging in the square, named in his honour, for the role he played in the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, which was instrumental in ending slavery in the British West Indies.

He was conferred with the order of National Hero in 1975.

The mayor called on the education ministry to “take the necessary steps” to include the teachings of Sam Sharpe in aspects of the school curriculum.

“Let us not wait until a stranger to Jamaica makes the move to get literature about Sam Sharpe in our schools; let us continue to honour our own hero in our country,” he implored.

Labour Day, under the theme ‘Plant a Tree for Life – Promoting Climate Change Mitigation, Food Security and Road Safety’ culminates a series of activities for Workers’ Week from May 14 to 23 under the theme ‘Celebrating 85 Years of Labour Relations in Jamaica’.

Williams said that Worker’s Week “is a special time for all Jamaicans, especially for those of us who are from the parish of St James where Samuel Sharpe played a major role in winning the freedom which we now enjoy”.

The mayor called for Jamaicans to make a more concerted effort to celebrate Sam Sharpe throughout the year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his message for Labour Day and Workers' Week, said that “without labour there is no prosperity”.

“Your Government’s main priority remains the growth of our economy, so that every Jamaican who wants to work has the opportunity to do so,” he said in his message read by Minister of National Security and Member of Parliament for St James North Western Dr Horace Chang.

“Your Government continues to maintain our fiscally disciplined approach while at the same time implementing policies that drive economic growth to improve the lives of workers and our people,” he added.

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, in his message delivered by Custos of St James, Bishop Conrad Pitkin, noted that the workforce is an essential part of the island’s economy and development.

“Workers in various sectors, such as agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, construction and business process outsourcing, contribute to the growth of the economy and strengthen the nation,” he noted.

“The labour force is made up of hardworking men and women who play an essential role in the country’s development. It is, therefore, fitting to celebrate and recognise their contribution to the country’s progress during Workers’ Week,” he added.

– JIS

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