National Heritage Week provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the hard work, dedication and contribution which our National Heroes have made to nation-building. At this time, it is therefore appropriate to ‘praise famous men and our fathers that begat us.” The resoluteness of our National Heroes in advancing the cause for fundamental rights such as freedom from enslavement, self-rule, property ownership and Independence, are achievements that have in their unique way formed part of the road map for national development. As we celebrate their life, work and achievement for Jamaica, let us commit ourselves to building on their remarkable legacy.
This week we are celebrating National Heritage Week under the theme “The Journey Continues.” I believe that these celebrations should focus on raising public awareness and discourse on how best we can use the experiences of our past, our culture, traditions and the natural environment that nature has bequeathed to us, in essence those things that are right with Jamaica, to fix the things that are wrong with Jamaica.
Many of the challenges we face are the result of social decay and a growing lack of disrespect for law and order and for each other. It is born out of a change in the social dynamics where formerly every child belonged to the community and the village was collectively responsibly for raising the child. Today children are without mentors and positive role models to guide their social and spiritual development.
We know the effect that these challenges have had on our country. Crime and violence, low GDP levels and an inability to adequately fund education, health and social renewal programmes are just some of the ways in which the country has been affected.
However,in spite of the obstacles and challenges, I believe there is a hero in all of us and that each one of us can make a difference in the transformation of Jamaica. Heroism is an occupation in which we must all engage in our homes, schools, in our churches, workplaces and communities. Each of our National Heroes ‘have left a name behind, that their praises might be reported.’ We too must leave a legacy for Jamaica on which future generations can build.
Our ancestors faced many challenges along their portion of the journey, but they did not despair. The journey continuesandI encourage all Jamaicans to believe in themselves and use their God-given talents to build a better Jamaica.
Happy Heroes Day Jamaica!