Edward Phillip George Seaga was one of modern Jamaica’s most influential and controversial political leaders.
His legacy is one of nation building.
Tyrone Reid looks back at the life and times of Jamaica’s 5th Prime Minister and former Leader of the governing Jamaica Labour Party, JLP.
Edward Seaga has the distinction of being the longest serving member of Jamaica’s Parliament.
He was the last remaining member of the legislature that drafted Jamaica’s Constitution in 1961.
Mr. Seaga was the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica, from November 1980 to February 1989.
He led the Jamaica Labour Party for 31-years from 1974 to 2005.
Seaga was either intensely loved or hated.
For many of his supporters, he was the nation builder who shaped many of Jamaica’s institutions of today.
For others, he was a hated figure.
His political opponents demonized him as the man who built Jamaica’s most feared political garrison, West Kingston. And, in particular its fortress – Tivoli Gardens.
Edward Phillip George Seaga, was born on May 28, 1930 in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States to Philip George and Erna Seaga.
His parents returned to Jamaica when Edward was nine months old.
The young Edward Seaga was educated at Wolmer’s Boys’ School in Kingston.
From there he earned a place at the US Ivy League, Harvard University. There, he said, his interest in public service was kindled.
After graduating from Harvard in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Social Sciences, Edward Seaga returned to Jamaica to study medicine at the University of the West Indies, at the urging of his mother.
Edward Seaga’s political career began in 1959 when the founder of the Jamaica Labour Party, Sir Alexander Bustamante, nominated him to serve in the Legislative Council.
The council later became the Senate.
He was only 29 years old. The youngest member ever appointed to the Legislative Council.
During his time in the Council, Mr. Seaga participated in drafting the Jamaican Constitution.
In April 1962, Edward Seaga was elected Member of Parliament for West Kingston, a depressed and poverty-stricken waterfront area in the capital city.
Immediately after winning West Kingston in the parliamentary elections of 1962, Seaga was appointed to the first post-independence Cabinet of Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante.
He was the Minister of Development and Welfare, with responsibility for all areas of planning, social development and culture.
Following the 1967 General Elections, Mr. Seaga was appointed Minister of Finance and Planning and in 1974 he became Leader of the JLP, a position he held for 30 years.
Edward Seaga became Prime Minister of Jamaica following the bloody General Elections of October 30, 1980
Edward Phillip George Seaga, Jamaica’s fifth Prime Minister passed away today, May 28, 2019 on his 89th birthday.