Leader of the parliamentary Opposition Mark Golding has renewed a call made by many Jamaicans over the years for reggae icon Robert Nesta Marley to be conferred with the Order of National Hero in recognition of the global impact of his music.
Speaking at a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate at Gordon House on Friday, Golding said, "Over 40 years since he departed this life, Bob Marley's music, image and message of positive livity for all mankind continue to grow across the world, and in my opinion it is high time that we recognise this by affording him the status of a national hero".
The joint sitting was held in commemoration of Jamaica's 60th anniversary of Independence from colonial rule.
Similarly this week, noted attorney-at-law Frank Phipps, in a letter to the Jamaica Observer, issued a call for Marley to be declared national hero for "conferring enduring fame upon all the people of Jamaica".
Phipps, who is also a member of the National Council for Reparation, said Marley had immortalised the indomitable spirit of the African Diaspora in Jamaica. He also said cultural icon Louise Bennett Coverley, better known as "Miss Lou", should be conferred with the Order of National Hero for memorialising African culture here.
"It would be encouraging to find out how many Jamaicans of all ages, all ethnic origins and all classes throughout the country would support a petition to honour these two Jamaicans of the majority race, out of many," Phipps said.
On Thursday, Golding also used the opportunity to caution against taking hard-earned constitutional rights, responsibilities, and democratic freedoms for granted, stressing that systems and institutions must be continuously strengthened to promote transparency, integrity, and accountability in all areas of governance.
"Lest we forget, our journey to full political independence is still incomplete. Our head of State is not a Jamaican and has never lived here. Our final court of appeal remains a vestige of colonial rule, sitting in London thousands of miles away; and a majority of our people have no practical means of accessing justice there," he said.
"After 60 years of standing on our own, there are a few out there who still believe that we are not ready to complete the circle of our political independence. It is time to cast aside such negative self-doubt. Jamaica 60 is an opportunity for us to come together and recommit to full political independence, by removing the last vestiges of past colonial rule," Golding stated.
Meanwhile, he pointed to the country's remarkable successes in music, sport and other areas, which have had global recognition and impact.
"Our most famous musical luminaries, in particular, have become icons of the reggae and dancehall genres, whose messages of justice and hope have inspired other nations facing oppression in their struggles for freedom," he told the sitting, which was attended by members of the judiciary, the diplomatic and consular corps, and a delegation from the Namibian Government. He noted that in academia, commerce, science and other professions, Jamaicans continue to leave their mark, pointing also to the country's enviable reputation in press freedom, international diplomacy, and politics.
"Jamaica made its mark by standing up for principle, even at times when we were under pressure to do otherwise. Jamaica has been respected for our adherence to the principles of non-alignment, non-interference, self-determination, the rule of international law and the pursuit of equity and justice among nations," the Opposition leader stated.