by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – A survey by Jamaica’s leading pollster shows overwhelming support for reggae legend Bob Marley and folklorist Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley to be made national heroes.
The poll, conducted by Don Anderson between July 16-26, interviewed 1,113 Jamaicans. It found that 29 per cent of Jamaicans supported Marley being named a national hero.
A similar amount believe Miss Lou should be given the country’s highest honor.
Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce
Nine per cent agreed that sprint legend Usain Bolt should be made national hero. Fellow sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce polled one per cent for similar status.
Professor Clinton Hutton, director of the Institute of Technological and Educational Research at The Mico University College in Kingston, said Marley should have been made national hero long ago.
“Bob Marley is an exceptional player in 20th century Jamaica. He put the philosophy of Marcus Garvey and Rastafari in songs and poems that articulated universal issues about freedom, justice, and black identity,” Hutton noted.
Marley was awarded the Order of Merit, Jamaica’s fourth-highest honour, in February 1981. He died from cancer in May that year at age 36.
Miss Lou, who championed the use of Jamaican dialect in schools and theater, is also recipient of the OM. She died in September, 2006 at age 87.
Bolt holds the Order of Jamaica, his country’s fifth-highest honor. Fraser Pryce will be upgraded to OJ in October during the National Honours and Awards ceremony. She currently has the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth-highest honor.
In April, St Ann South Eastern Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna moved a motion in the House of Representatives for Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to take the required steps that would make Marley the country’s eighth national hero.
Pan-African leader Marcus Garvey, politician/trade unionists Sir Alexander Bustamante, former premier Norman Manley, anti-colonialists Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Nanny, and Sam Sharpe are Jamaica’s national heroes.