President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, today (August 6), placed flowers at the Shrine of the country’s first National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, at National Heroes Park, in Kingston.
The ceremony formed part of the itinerary of the President’s three-day State visit to the island.
The President and Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta are special guests for the celebration of the 57th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence.
President Kenyatta, who arrived at the park shortly after 9:00 a.m., was greeted by a delegation, headed by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange.
Prior to laying the wreath, President Kenyatta was introduced to members of the receiving party, which included representatives from the Government, the Ministry, the National Reparations Council, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and the Rastafarian community.
Included were: Anthony Thompson, son of noted Pan-Africanist, the late Ambassador Dudley Joseph Thompson; President, UNIA, Steven Golding; retired Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies who taught at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Carolyn Cooper; author, Miguel Lorne; and Heru Menelik of the UNIA.
Following the floral tribute, President Kenyatta engaged members of the Nyahbinghi drummers, who chanted and provided a steady beat during the ceremony. He also met with representatives from the Rastafarian community who attended.
In an interview with JIS News following the ceremony, Minister Grange described Mr. Garvey as the father of Pan-Africanism.
“He inspired great leaders in Africa, such as Jomo Kenyatta, whose son is now the President of Kenya and is on a State visit, so it was important for him to pay tribute to Marcus Mosiah Garvey. He came this morning, and it was an emotional moment,” she said.
Miss Grange said Mr. Garvey served as an inspiration in the struggles that black people had to go through.
“He still is an inspiration and so his legacy lives on, and as we launch the UN declared International Decade for people of African descent, we see that as part of Marcus Garvey’s legacy. We will continue to pay tribute, we will continue to promote his name and his work, and we will continue to honour him,” she added.
For his part, Mr. Thompson said the visit represented one of the high points of his life.
“This is historic on a personal level. Both our fathers were very close and worked for the cause of Africa in Kenya’s liberation, and as a resident Jamaican, for that piece of Africa that I know very well and lived in to come here to visit us is really a high point in my personal life and for our nation,” he shared with JIS News.
Marcus Garvey was born in St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann on August 17, 1887. In 1914, Mr. Garvey started the UNIA in Jamaica, which grew into an international organisation dedicated to racial pride and economic self-sufficiency for black people worldwide.
Mr. Garvey was conferred with the Order of the National Hero in 1969.
The President, who arrived in the island on August 5, has participated in several other scheduled engagements, including bilateral talks with the Prime Minister.
He also attended the 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in May Pen, Clarendon, and will attend the Grand Gala at the National Stadium later in the evening.
The President and Mrs. Kenyatta are scheduled to depart the island on Wednesday (August 7).