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Jamaica: National Heroes Park

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National Heroes Park | Jamaica | Americas

[Visited: April 2009]

After walking through a rather sketchy neighbourhood, I arrived at the eastern side of National Heroes Park. I bought some small and tasty mangoes before entering through a hole in the fence. Formerly the place of horse races and official celebrations, and the site of the Smile Jamaica Concert in 1976, in which Jamaican superstar Bob Marley performed despite being shot two days earlier, this place between uptown and downtown Kingston was declared the National Heroes Park in 1962. I walked to what looked like a monument, and found out I had arrived at the tomb of Donald Sangster, a politician of humble origins who briefly was Prime Minister in 1967, and who died unexpectedly after just a few months in office. The monument, four white bows pointing upwards and wider at the top than at the base, symbolize the simple origins of Sangster and the unaccomplished nature of his career. Close to it, I also found the monument for Michael Manley, former Prime Minister as well, serving several terms. An eloquent speaker, and son of a former Prime Minister, some quotes expressing his views of equality are engraved on the black Jamaican marble monument at his tombstone.

Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Monument to Donald Sangster, former Prime Minister of Jamaica

At this side of the National Park, which is still under construction to an extent where the beautiful monuments seem almost out of order, there are also some tombs for famous religious leaders of the country, surrounded by flowers. From here, it is a short walk south towards the main area of the park. Here, you can find the eternal flame, as well as a cenotaph in honour of the Jamaicans who were killed in combat in the two World Wars of the 20th century, with two red-uniformed guards. The cenotaph is topped by a white cross, and finds itself at the crossroads of two lanes with more monuments. Close by is the remarkable monument to Norman Manley, another former Prime Minister. It consists of twelve pillars, and his tomb has the shape of a star. The monument is actually lower than the park itself, and it is possible to enter the area. This allows for a better view of the statues of a man and a woman, symbolizing the birth of the Jamaican nation.

Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Combined monument for George Gordon and Paul Bogle

On the eastern side of the National Heroes Park, you can find a monument in honour of the Nanny of the Maroons, a female slave who fought the English with guerrilla like tactics and tenacity, as well as Marcus Garvey. Garvey was actually the first Jamaican to be proclaimed National Hero, because of his efforts worldwide to give black Africans, especially those living outside Africa, pride and honour. On the western side of National Heroes Park, you immediately see an arch under which the tombstone of Alexander Bustamante is laid. He fought for independence of Jamaica in the mid-20th century, as a labour leader and politician, and first Prime Minister of the newly independent Jamaica in 1962. Coincidentally, he died precisely on Jamaican independence day in 1977. A little down the lane, there are the monuments to Samuel Sharpe, a slave leader who resisted the slave system, was executed in 1832, but whose uprising directly influenced the abolition of slavery. Next to it, the tombs of George Gordon and Paul Bogle, contemporaries of the 19th century who are seen as precursors of Jamaican nationalism.

Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Monument for the Nanny of the Maroons
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Michael Manley is commemorated through a slab of black Jamaican marble
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Detail of the monument for Norman Manley
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Paul Bogle commemorated in National Heroes Park
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Commemorating the soldiers who died in the two World Wars
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Statue of man in the monument of Norman Manley
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Changing of the guards
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Arched monument to Alexander Bustamante
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Marcus Garvey honoured with a tombstone in the shape of a black star
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Norman Manley is recognized as one of the heroes of Jamaica
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer commemorated
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Tombstone of religious figure
Picture of National Heroes Park (Jamaica): Monument commemorating slave leader Samuel Sharpe

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