The ruling Jamaica Labour Party is carving out a legacy for one of their most prominent leader, Edward Phillip George Seaga. The corporate office of Petrojam Limited, located on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, on Thursday (February 22/2018), was officially named ‘The Edward Seaga Building’. It was announced and supervised by the Jamaica Labour Party Leader and current Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Additionally, it has been announced that the Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive High School in West Kingston is to be renamed in honour of Edward Seaga. Desmond McKenzie, the Member of Parliament for West Kingston, made the announcement at a function at the institution on Monday, February 26/2018
According to McKenzie, a petition was made to the Ministry of Education some years ago, to have the school renamed in honour of Seaga, who was Member of Parliament for the constituency for 43 years. Edward Philip George Seaga was born on 28 May 1930, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. In April 1962, Seaga was elected Member of Parliament for West Kingston.
He was the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica, from 1980 to 1989, and the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party from 1974 to 2005. He served as leader of the opposition from 1974 to 1980, and again from 1989 until January 2005.
According to Loop News, Seaga helped to shape pretty much all the major infrastructure of the area, including the building of Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive High.
Seaga’s introduction to the Jamaican people was very much a champion of the Capitalist agenda, (opposing Manley’s Socialist agenda) and the representative of West Kingston Constituency but mainly rooted in Tivoli Gardens.
The question is, seen as Edward Seaga is carving out a legacy as one of Jamaica’s most prominent statesman and revered politician, should the media have an obligation to critically analyse and assess Mr. Seaga’s legacy?
In November 28/1988 The New York Times published an article titled “Showdown in Jamaica”. It is a long and detail article of the political climate at the time with Edward Seaga and the opposition of the Peoples National Party, Michael Manley. This paragraph taken from The New York Times which wrote “[t]he three blocks west of Gold Street in Central Kingston support Manley's party but the three blocks east of Gold Street, known as Southside, back the Jamaican Labor Party (J.L.P.) of the current Prime Minister, Edward P.G. Seaga. The Southside gang is led by Chubby, a tall, well-built Rastafarian warlord with an elegant mane of dreadlocks. He was wounded fighting for Seaga in the 1980 election and recalls 10 friends who were killed around Gold Street”.
According to The New York Times, Seaga's greatest economic accomplishment has been restoring confidence.
Delroy Lindsay, the young director of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, a lobbying group for entrepreneurs, considers Seaga the greatest Prime Minister in the history of Jamaica. ''He has brought reality to Jamaica,'' he said.
That confidence is what built Tivoli Gardens. Therefore, one could argue, it would be extremely bias and morally lacking to see Seaga’s name on the Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive High School Building and forget to mention that his name is synonymous with Lester Lloyd Coke (Jim Brown). Jim Brown and the Coke family had been a prominent part of Tivoli Gardens. In fact, in an article dated the 4/5/92, the US Paper Newsweek wrote: [t]o his friends, Brown was a hero who rose above the despair of Jamaica's ghettos. In Kingston's slums, he was a key enforcer for former Prime Minister Edward Seaga's Jamaica Labor Party; Seaga himself called Brown the "protector" of Kingston's poor, and helped lead the don dadda's funeral. But to local police-who had tried, and failed, to pin 14 separate murder charges on him-- Brown was the most influential of the city's gangland bosses,
Since the death of Lloyd Lester Coke, (Jim Brown), Tivoli Gardens has slowly went into decline. The world watched when under the Jamaica Labour Party Government with Bruce Golding as the leader, where there was an assault on Tivoli Gardens. Christopher (Dudus) Coke, the son of Lloyd Lester Coke (Jim Brown) was wanted by the United States government for drug offenses. According to The New Yorker, [at the center of this mess was Jamaica’s then-Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who also represented Tivoli Gardens as a Member of Parliament. Golding spent months delaying the extradition request. His party hired a Washington law firm to lobby against it. Golding has maintained that he was acting on principle and that the wiretap evidence used by the U.S. to indict Coke was illegal under Jamaican law. But many people have argued that Coke had influence over Golding and that Jamaica was on the verge of becoming a narco-state. Hardley Lewin, the former head of Jamaica’s military, has suggested that when the extradition request finally went through, Golding’s administration leaked the news to Coke, giving him time to muster his forces. The result of this was an assault on Tivoli where many people died. The official number is seventy three but many said the total death far exceeded that amount.
The news made International headline. The Guardian wrote, the alleged druglord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke has been arrested on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaican police said tonight. Coke, 42, is wanted for extradition to the United States and at least 73 people were killed when Jamaican security forces stormed a Kingston slum during an attempt to capture him last month.
The question is, after 43 years as a representative of Tivoli Gardens, did Mr. Seaga left an environment or a legacy that allowed Tivoli Gardens and West Kington to become a successful and safe community? Since the removal of Christopher (Dudus) Coke, Tivoli Gardens have broken out into Turf Wars. Almost a no-go area. One can fairly say, the legacy is one of death, gangs and destruction. There are still holes with gunshots in many of the buildings in Tivoli Gardens.
Tivoli Gardens is known as the Mother of all Garrisons and many foreign media see Tivoli as a downtown slum. The Guardian wrote:In a society burdened by three centuries of the plantation and the lash, top-ranking ghetto dons such as Christopher "Dudus" Coke have become the new lords of the manor, revered by some as Robin Hood-type figures. It might seem strange that Dudus should mean so much to the poor. Yet in the downtown area of Tivoli Gardens where he holds court, the levels of despair and hopelessness have reached tragic proportions.The church, the police and other powerful establishments have long since moved uptown. Charities, free-food programmes and other inner-city agencies no longer want to go downtown: they are too frightened. Parts of Tivoli Gardens, a sprawling housing project built in 1966 by the Jamaica Labour party, or JLP, have become a state within a state, where the residents pay no rent or utility bills and the drug lords give themselves titles like "president", because they pretty well rule the place.
In an article by The New Yorker entitled “Massacre in Jamaica”, it outlined the destruction left behind: At 11 a.m., gunfire erupted as the security forces breached the barricades. Everyone in the street around Building Two scrambled for cover. Many ran to the ground-floor flat of an elderly woman named Murline Campbell, Hinds’s neighbor. (“When they come to my house, they are all family,” Campbell said later.) Suddenly, a J.D.F. helicopter appeared overhead, and Hinds was struck by an explosion. Her yellow shorts were charred black and her hip and buttocks were severely burned. She fell in the middle of the street, and blood flowed from gashes on her legs and face.
Many called Mr. Seaga, one of the best economic leader Jamaica has ever had. They said he stabled the Jamaican dollar and kept the Economy afloat. Nevertheless, there were many who argued then, that what Mr. Seaga had achieved at the time was a facade because he was getting assistance from the United States to keep the dollar stable. The now declassified CIA document, lend some credibility to that argument. Additionally, with the current economic state of the Jamaican finances and a debt which will never be paid back in our lifetime, many argue this is where it all started.
There is no doubt Mr. Seaga has left his mark in Jamaica. Seaga’s passion for politics was probably fuelled from his love for economic/financial matters. This saw him being instrumental in the forming a number of institutions including the Urban Development Corporation – UDC (1968), the Jamaica Stock Exchange (1969), Jamaica National Investment Promotion Ltd. – now JAMPRO (Jamaica Invest), National Development Bank (1981), and the Jamaican Students’ Loan Bureau.
Edward Seaga The Visionary, did you know that the Honourable Edward Seaga founded HEART – Human Employment and Resource Training Programme? Seaga instituted the program in 1983 as an education/vocational training centre that has proved very critical to the empowering of the Jamaican workforce over the years.
Tivoli Gardens is a vibrant community full of many hard working Jamaicans. One could argue that Tivoli have a culture of its own. A culture which was an envy of many in other communities in Jamaica. The people are beautiful and proud and despite what many consider as downfall of an Empire, they still stand with pride. Nonetheless, many would argue that, Tivoli Gardens,the place that made Edward Seaga's political and professional career and therefore his legacy in Jamaica is a missed opportunity for him.