I Want to be a National Hero

Posted: October 15, 2012 in Politics/Current affairs
Tags: , , , ,

Every October we Jamaicans proudly celebrate National Heroes Day. And every year like clockwork certain topics of conversation arise. These topics range from interesting to downright controversial.

Some of us want to talk about why more is not taught in schools about our heroes (esp the philosophies of Marcus Garvey). Others want to talk about which hero is the greatest/their favourite. Others want to condemn the take over of heroes day by all inclusive parties and perceived drunken raving. The more controversial of us want to advocate for the deletion of some names from the slate of national heroes.

Whilst I am far from that controversial (well maybe just for the purposes of this piece), the issue that has been gripping my mind for about four or five National Heroes’ Days now seems to be societally controversial as well. What has been bothering me is the seeming social consensus that the list of national heroes is closed.

Bring up the issue of persons who you think could or even worse SHOULD be accorded the nation’s highest honour and one risks being seen as having committed the worse act of blasphemy.

This notion of there never ever being another national hero in Jamaica is really troubling to me. But before I delve further into my argument for more national heroes (extant or future).  Let’s deal with some facts.

According to the National Honours and Awards Act 1969 Article 6(2)

Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) the
Governor-General may by instrument under the Broad Seal
confer the honour of National Hero upon any person who was
born in Jamaica or is, or at the time of his death was, a citizen of
Jamaica and rendered to Jamaica service of the most
distinguished nature.”

Now there is no further elaboration as to what exactly constitutes “service of the most distinguished nature” , so what do we do. Maybe we can glean what is expected of a National Hero. Leader of a Slave rebellion, Maroon leader, Advocates for the rights of the newly freed, Renowned pan-africanist and pro-black philosopher and political leaders at independence  Far from doing any of them justice, the previous phrases encapsulate this notion of service of the most distinguished nature.

So, has anyone in the history of Jamaica beyond our 6 heroes and heroine met the Criteria for the highest honour in the land. I don’t wish to get into the back and forth on this aspect of it but it is my humble opinion that at the very least, a plausible case can be made for a few persons. Persons I unapologetically place in the ballpark of such an honour  include The Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, Dr The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley and most controversially The Honourable Usain Bolt. Agree?

My gripe is not so much with persons who have been slighted. My gripe is if I wish to be the next Jamaican National Hero it should not be seen as a delusional aspiration. If we as Jamaicans cannot aspire to the highest honour of the Land then where are we going. Are we saying all the major contributions to Jamaica’s  development have been made already. THAT CANNOT BE. We as a nation still have a significant way to go and we need more national heroes to rise up to help this process along.

So on this special National Heroes Day in the 50th year of Jamaican Independence let us all aspire to work towards the upliftment of Jamaican society so much so that somewhere down the line we can be honoured AND NOT NECESSARILY WHEN WE ARE DEAD!!!!


  1. Interesting read. I could see this leading to a civil war though. Because Michael Manley is going to be up there in a lot of people’s minds. Then, you know that Eddie Seaga will have to be there after that. Then why not PJ Patterson who is our most successful political leader in terms of elections? And why, Mrs Simpson-Miller is a woman from the bowels of the working class. Shouldn’t we honour that?

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