Suite established at Devon House in honour of Seaga
The Edward Seaga Suite at Devon House, which was officially opened on Friday, May 27. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A multipurpose suite has been established at Jamaica’s globally renowned iconic heritage landmark, Devon House, in honour of late former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga.

The repurposed structure, originally a gazebo, was renovated at a cost of $15.2 million by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), with funds from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and will host meetings and other special events.

The Most Hon Edward Seaga Suite was so named in recognition of his role in preventing Devon House’s demolition by private developers in 1965, when he served as Minister of Welfare and Development.

He spearheaded the property’s acquisition on behalf of the Government and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for its development and evolution into what is now a popular attraction for Jamaicans and tourists.

The facility was formally opened by Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett; Seaga’s widow, Carla Seaga, and daughter, Gabrielle, during a ceremony on Friday, May 27, one day before the 92nd anniversary of the late former Prime Minister’s birth.

The occasion was also used to relaunch Devon Duppy Jamaican Rum, a product of Devon House, which Seaga was instrumental in creating, along with the establishment’s renowned I Scream (ice cream), among other products.

Bartlett, in his remarks, noted that Seaga’s attraction to, and role in preserving and developing Devon House was born out of his “more than organic” relationship with development.

“It had to do with his intellectual appreciation of the cultures and the elements that go into making a culture of a people and why the culture is so critical in defining who you are and creating what we call the ‘specificity’ of a people,” he said.

Bartlett pointed out that, as a social anthropologist, Seaga spent his time exploring and understanding the origins of people, civilisations, and societies, accompanying structures and organisations of societies, “and what it is that makes people who they are, but most important, what are the elements that must make you realise your best self”.

“He understood that you couldn’t develop a country without developing the people, because people were at the heart and the essence of it. Also, that if people [are to develop] pride and a true appreciation of who they are, they need to understand their history and appreciate the contributors to that history,” the minister added.

He said Seaga also spent much time exploring what went into creating the cuisine for and by which Jamaica is so “well defined”, hence the creation of Devon Duppy Rum.

“Devon House is a beautiful place. It is a representation of the ‘Garden of Kingston’ that has all the facilities for human interaction. Devon House is one of Jamaica’s most iconic landmarks and has distinguished itself as a celebrated attraction,” the minister added.

In her remarks, Mrs Seaga said she and her daughter were “humbled” to have participated in the commemorative ceremony.

She said they and other members of the family deemed the occasion “a very great honour” and thanked the Ministry of Tourism and the team at Devon House “for this kind gesture”.

“I believe my late husband would have been pleased to know that he left his footprints on this piece of Jamaica’s cultural landscape… a place that was so very special to him. This will live on as a legacy, not only for all who come here but for his family members, for generations to come,” she added.

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