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KINGSTON, Jamaica— If Opposition Senator Dr Floyd Morris has his way, Jamaica will have eleven national heroes instead of the current seven, by the time the country celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence from Britain on August 6, 2022.
And Morris knows exactly who he wants the additional four heroes to be. They are legendary entertainers Robert Nesta Marley, more popularly called Bob Marley and James Chambers, better known as Jimmy Cliff. Morris also wants Olympic legend Usain St Leo Bolt conferred with the nation’s highest honour, as well as Lousie Simone Bennett-Coverley, the renowned poet, actress, social commentator, comedienne, folklorist and singer.
Morris made the call for the four cultural and sporting icons to be so recognised, in a motion he moved in the Senate on Friday. He argued that the four globally-acclaimed Jamaicans have represented Jamaica with distinction and have contributed in a significant way to the country’s dominance in reggae music, sports and culture since 1962.
“Be it resolved that this honourable Senate calls upon the government to put in place the necessary mechanisms and procedures for these iconic Jamaicans to be declared National Heroes and heroine respectively,” Morris told the Senate.
While various committees have been set up over the past 20 years to recommend which other Jamaicans should be declared national heroes, Morris noted that the National Honours and Awards Act gives the authority to the Governor General to confer the status of National Hero on a citizen of Jamaica subject to recommendations from the Prime Minister.
If Bolt and Cliff are named national heroes, it would bring to three, the number of persons so named while they were still alive. The only person bestowed with the honour while still alive was Sir Alexander Bustamante, who was named a National Hero on October 18, 1969 along with his cousin Norman Washington Manley. Bustamante died on August 6, 1977, at the age of 93.
Jamaica’s other national heroes are Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Sam Sharpe and Nanny of the Maroons.