EDWARD SEAGA: Nation Bids Farewell to Former Prime Minister

Author  Edited from CMC

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Hundreds of mourners were on hand to bid farewell to former Prime Minister Edward Phillip George Seaga, who died late May.

SeagaThe ecumenical service of thanksgiving for Seaga, who was 89, was held at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity here.

Seaga, who was accorded a state funeral, was lauded for his contribution to Jamaica’s political and cultural development.

In his tribute, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Seaga was a great man, who was at times misunderstood.

“I feel as privileged to be standing in tribute to him today, still in awe – as I was on the first day I met him,” Holness said.

“He was a visionary, a big thinker, yet he was a pragmatist, he was not a populist, he was not issuing political confectionary. These contradictions gave fodder to misrepresentations and often times he was misunderstood.

“All his work, from culture to sports, education, justice, the economy, music-everything, has been beneficial to the poor,” Holness added.

“… We pay tribute to a great leader, a visionary and a thinker, a man of dignity, order and excellence  … a modern man, an architect, a teacher, a father, a friend, a man for all seasons, a man for all peoples. Now we lay you to rest Pappa Eddie, but what you stood for lives on. It lives on in the institutions you created and the people you have tutored and mentored … rest well.”

‘TITANIC WARRIOR’

Former Prime Minister P.J Patterson said that, while they were political rivals, Seaga was a “titanic warrior” who had the will to succeed at whatever he did.

Also paying tribute was Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who described Seaga as a Caribbean champion, adding that Grenadians are grateful for Seaga’s role in the 1983 invasion of Grenada that toppled the government of Marxist revolutionary Maurice Bishop, which had overthrown elected officials in a coup.

“There may not have been unanimous support for the course of action taken then, but you were acting in Grenada’s best interest and for that we thank you,” said Mitchell.

Another tribute came from Desmond McKenzie, the current Member of Parliament for the West Kingston constituency, who said Seaga’s work as M.P. for West Kingston is a testimony to what his vision, love for the people can achieve.

“He created a cultural revolution in West Kingston that made us the envy of many communities across Jamaica,” said McKenzie.

“… You were not born here, but you renounced your American citizenship and became a total Jamaican through and through.”

The body of the former Prime Minister was laid to rest at the National Heroes Park.

Seaga was the only remaining member of the generation of leaders who drafted the constitution when Jamaica gained Independence from Britain in 1962. He won a parliamentary seat that year, representing West Kingston, and remained in office for over 40 years, longer than anyone in Jamaica’s history.

Seaga, who was Jamaica’s fifth prime minister, also served as the leader of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) from 1974 to 2005 when he retired from active politics.

He died on his birthday May 28 at a hospital in the United States.

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