UTech, Jamaica Pays Tribute at "The Arts in Tribute in Honour of the Late Most Honourable Edward Seaga”

A tribute to the late Most Honourable Edward Seaga, ON, PC was presented on behalf of the University by Mr. Richard Powell, Pro- Chancellor  at “The Arts in Tribute in Honour of the Late Most Honourable Edward Seaga” hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at the Little Theatre. 

The Arts in Tribute was presented as part of the official activities of the Government of Jamaica in celebration of the life of Mr. Seaga.  The special celebratory evening  featured tributes in dance, music and the spoken word. Tributes included performances by the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), Jamaica Folk Singers, Tivoli Dance Troupe, Nexxus Performing Arts Company, the University Singers, the Edna Manley School of Dance and saxophonist Dean Fraser, OD.

The tribute read by the Pro-Chancellor is presented below.

Tribute to the Most Honourable

Edward Seaga, O.N., P.C., Chancellor,

University of Technology, Jamaica, from the University

Mr Richard Powell, Pro-Chancellor


“The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight

But they, while their companions slept

Were toiling upward in the night.”

*From “The Ladder of St. Augustine”, by H.W. Longfellow

Today, the University of Technology, Jamaica, joins with all Jamaica in paying public tribute to the Most Honourable Edward Seaga, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Order of the Nation, Privy Counsellor, former Minister of Community Development and Welfare, former Minister of Finance and Planning, former Leader of the Opposition, scholar and activist.

Today, it is my sad duty and honour to present this tribute to the Most Honourable Edward Seaga, mainly in his capacity as the Chancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica.  Mr Seaga served as the distinguished Chancellor of our University from 2010 to the time of his passing on May 28, 2019.  During this period, he was a major source of inspiration and a guide to the leadership of the University.  He was instrumental in annual meetings of the University and lent his wealth of experience and expertise to all aspects of the University’s work.  He was also Pro-Chancellor at the University of Technology, Jamaica between 2008 to 2010, another position which allowed him to offer direction and drive to the University’s efforts as a national institution.

At one of his last organized, public appearances, Mr Seaga offered a Distinguished Public Lecture in keeping with the University’s 60th Anniversary activities.  In this 60th Anniversary Lecture, Mr Seaga’s presentation was concerned with “The Origins and Development of Jamaican Music”, a subject close to his heart.  He was at his spellbinding best, bringing home his outstanding oratorical skills, emphasizing his deep love of Jamaica and Jamaicans, and demonstrating his extensive knowledge of Jamaican cultural and religious practices.

For that lecture, Mr Seaga was keen to have students of the University present in their numbers.  Using as the base point his “Reggae Golden Jubilee 50th Anniversary CD, Mr Seaga reminded of hits such as “Manny Oh” by Higgs and Wilson, the first Jamaican record on vinyl (produced by Edward Seaga).  He also took us through “Wash Wash” by Prince Buster, “My Boy Lollipop” by Millie Small, “The Tide is High” by the Paragons, “Satta Massa Gana” by the Abysinnians, and “Wear You to the Ball” by U-Roy and the Paragons.  In the presentation by Mr Seaga, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Dennis Emmanuel Brown, King Yellowman, Michigan and Smiley, JC Lodge, Marcia Griffiths, Beenie Man, Tarrus Riley, Etana, Queen Ifrica and Jimmy Cliff were among others who, so to speak, came to the ball.

For each song, Mr Seaga offered commentary, in some instances commentary from his own life.  He spoke of Buxton Town, he spoke of Tivoli Gardens and other parts of West Kingston, and he noted that when he was doing some of his research on revival cults in rural Jamaica, some of the people started to call him “a black heart man”.

Mr Seaga also mentioned the humorous circumstances in which he came to undertake nude swimming on a beach in a little corner of Negril – an incident which caused one wit to remark that, in addition to his many well-deserved accolades, Mr Seaga had invented nudist swimming on the rock.  All persons present at the Distinguished Lecture will recall that, in the midst of the rendition of a vintage hit, Mr Seaga offered the youth in the audience a display on how to do the “ska”: “back in the day, they use to call me “ska-yaga”, the late Prime Minister intoned.  Yes, we all remember “ska-yaga”; what may not have noticed, however, were the tears down his cheeks that day as he reflected on his social and cultural experiences among the Jamaican people.

As the Chancellor, Mr Seaga was always determined to advance the progress of our University.  He made efforts both behind the scenes and publicly to support the cause of staff members at UTech, Ja; he introduced us to persons in the private sector who, in his view, could collaborate with the University; and he presided over our Graduation ceremonies with his traditional elan.

Beyond the confines of the University environment which Mr Seaga occupied most recently, he has been unsurpassed as a national leader.  He was the longest serving Member of Parliament, from 1962 to 2005; pioneered numerous projects at the heart of Jamaica’s infrastructural development; created the Jamaica Festival, conceptualized the HEART Trust and Things Jamaica; and was one of the architects of the Constitution of independent Jamaica. 

At the level of language, Mr Seaga introduced most of us to the concept of “stagflation”, advertised his own “vim, vigour and vitality”, and encouraged political allies in discord to “light a candle, sing a sankey and find you way back home.”

Mr Seaga’s versatility has also seen him as a central figure in the operations of the Premier League Clubs Association, a connection with football, through Tivoli Gardens FC, which represents an additional link to his earlier days as a sportsman at Wolmer’s Boys School.

On the world stage, Mr Seaga made his mark from the time of his early Ministerial positions.  He was instrumental in bringing National Hero, Marcus Garvey, back to his homeland in 1964, and, at a later, more contentious time, reaffirmed Jamaica’s alliance with the United States through his personal links with late President, Ronald Reagan.  In this regard, Mr Seaga used the opportunity of his retirement from active politics to present his perspectives in books on various international and national developments, including the Grenada intervention and Jamaica’s relationship with Cuba.

As Jamaica mourns the passing of Mr Seaga, so does the University of Technology, Jamaica.  We offer condolences to all members of the Seaga family, his large universe of friends and colleagues, and the many who have been touched by his practicality, sound judgment, and commitment to Jamaica.   

The Most Honourable Edward Seaga has given us a life of hard work, diligence and accomplishment.  His successes were not attained by sudden flight, but by constant effort and determination.  In this he is a model for us all at the University of Technology, Jamaica, and the wider Jamaica. 

Again, Longfellow from “The Ladder of St. Augustine”:

We have not wings, we cannot soar

But we have feet to scale and climb

By slow degrees, by more and more

The cloudy summits of our time.

Mr. Seaga scaled the cloudy summits of our time.

May his soul rest in peace.