LUCEA, Hanover — The importance of preserving the country's history, erecting and maintaining monuments was highlighted by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Friday as he unveiled a life-size statue of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante, who was independent Jamaica's first head of Government.
The $3-million project, which includes the statue and two storyboards on the grounds of the Hanover Parish Library, is the brainchild of Hanover Western Member of Parliament Tamika Davis, who wanted to highlight Sir Alexander's contribution to nation-building in recognition of Jamaica's 60th year of Independence.
"There is a sense that improving infrastructure such as a monument, building a new monument — because that is a particular kind of infrastructure — improving civic buildings, building a new Parliament, for example, there is a sense that it is a waste of money [and that] we shouldn't do that, [and that] there are other things that that $3 million could be used to do. And I am certain that all of you here and those listening on social media would agree that there are three million other things that that $3 million could be used to do," Holness said.
"We wrestle with this in our country because there is a lack of understanding in the public discourse about what the symbols of our civil bureaucracy and our civil administration mean and what the monuments of our history mean. And that speaks to how we see our nation, how we see our Government, and how we view our history; how important it is," the prime minister said.
He argued that there is a disconnect between people and how they view the country's vital institutions, which leads to a devaluation of those institutions in people's minds.
"The irony, of course, is that the more we devalue our history, we devalue our monuments, we devalue our civil bureaucracy and our administration, it is the less likely they will perform to the standards that you want them to," stated Holness.
Davis, in her address, said the people of Hanover are proud of Sir Alexander, who was from the parish.
"As Hanoverians we are very proud of the fact that not only is he a national hero, not only is he the founder of the Jamaica Labour Party, not only is he one of the champions for the working class, he is the first prime minister of Independent Jamaica and, more importantly, he hails from the beautiful parish of Hanover, from a small rural community called Blenheim — and for that we are proud," stated Davis.
She noted that the placement of the statue at the library will create interest among people living in the town, those passing through, and those who visit the library to do research.
Davis also said that the story behind the Jamaican hero, who assisted in paving the way for the country's Independence, must be told.
The statue was sculpted by renowned visual artist and educator Scheed Cole who has also done statues of Bob Marley at the Trench Town Culture Yard, as well as the Diamond Heroes float for the Jamaica 60 parade. He has additionally done work for Flow, Fort Charles in Port Royal, the natural history museum in Kingston, and S Hotel in St James.
Cole told the Jamaica Observer that creating a statue such as that of Bustamante would normally take three months. However, he had only two months to do the work after the contract was signed.
"I am very happy with the results; the structural integrity of the work is good," stated Cole who said that the statue, which is made from resin materials to include recycled items such as plastics, is capable of standing the test of time.
"It will last for a very long time without any form of retouching. As long as it is taken care of and respected and is not vandalised, it will last a lifetime," Cole said.
Cole received his training at The Mico University College and taught at various schools for 15 years before deciding, in 2010, to start his businesses — Section OI, a visual arts company, and 360 Recycle Manufacturing Ltd which, he said, turns trash into treasure.