|5th Prime Minister of Jamaica|
1 November 1980 – 10 February 1989
|Governor General||Sir Florizel Glasspole|
|Preceded by||Michael Manley|
|Succeeded by||Michael Manley|
|Leader of the Opposition|
10 February 1989 – 21 January 2005
|Prime Minister||Michael Manley|
P. J. Patterson
|Preceded by||Michael Manley|
|Succeeded by||Bruce Golding|
1974 – 1 November 1980
|Prime Minister||Michael Manley|
|Preceded by||Hugh Shearer|
|Succeeded by||Michael Manley|
|Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party|
November 1974 – 21 January 2005
|Preceded by||Hugh Shearer|
|Succeeded by||Bruce Golding|
Edward Philip George Seaga
28 May 1930
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||28 May 2019 (aged 89)|
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Political party||Jamaica Labour Party|
Marie 'Mitsy' Constantine
(m. 1965; dis 1995)
Edward Philip George Seaga ON PC (// or /--/; 28 May 1930 – 28 May 2019) was a Jamaican politician. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica, from 1980 to 1989, and the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party from 1974 to 2005. He served as leader of the opposition from 1974 to 1980, and again from 1989 until January 2005.
His retirement from political life marked the end of Jamaica's founding generation in active politics. He was the last serving politician to have entered public life before independence in 1962, as he was appointed to the Legislative Council (now the Senate) in 1959. Seaga is credited with having built the financial and planning infrastructure of the country after independence, as well as having developed its arts and crafts, and awareness of national heritage.
As a record producer and record company owner of West Indies Records Limited, Seaga also played a major role in the development of the Jamaican music industry. Seaga died on May 28, 2019, on his eighty-ninth birthday.
Edward Philip George Seaga was born on 28 May 1930, in Boston, Massachusetts, United States to Philip George Seaga, who was of Lebanese Jamaican descent, and Erna (née Maxwell), who was Jamaican of African, Scottish and Indian descent. He and his parents returned to Jamaica when he was three months old. He was baptised in Kingston's Anglican Parish Church on 5 December 1930. Erna was the daughter of Elizabeth Campbell (maiden name), daughter of John Zungaroo Campbell.
The young Seaga was educated at Wolmer’s Boys' School in Jamaica. He went to the United States for higher education, graduating from Harvard University in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts (Harvard AB) degree in the Social Sciences. Before embarking on his political career, Seaga was a music producer and promoter. He subsequently took a research post at the University of the West Indies.
Music industry career
Seaga's research led to an interest in popular Jamaican music. In 1955, he supervised the recording of an album of ethnic Jamaican music. He continued to produce recordings by other artists and in the late 1950s set up West Indies Records Limited, releasing early recordings by artists such as Higgs and Wilson and Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. Beginning in 1961, Seaga lived in West Kingston. He became deeply involved in its music scene and recorded some of its artists.
West Indies Records Limited became the most successful record company in the West Indies. After being elected in 1962 as a Member of Parliament, representing the Jamaica Labour Party, he sold the company to Byron Lee. It was renamed Dynamic Sounds.
Over 16 years, Seaga worked on compiling a collection of Jamaican music covering the period from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. This anthology, Reggae Golden Jubilee Origins of Jamaican Music, was released on 6 November 2012 in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaican independence.
Seaga's political career began in 1959 when Sir Alexander Bustamante, founder of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), nominated him to serve in the Upper House of the Jamaican Parliament, the Legislative Council (later the Senate). His appointment at the age of 29 made him the youngest member ever appointed to the Legislative Council. In 1961, he participated in drafting the Jamaican Constitution.
In April 1962, Seaga was elected Member of Parliament for West Kingston, the waterfront area in the capital city. Historically, it has been the oldest settlement in Kingston for poor, working-class residents, many of whom are unemployed. Employment is largely petty trading with some semi-skilled craftsmen. He held that seat for 43 consecutive years, until he retired, making him the longest-serving Member of Parliament in the history of Jamaica and the Caribbean region. He is the only person to have been elected as Member of Parliament for West Kingston for more than one term, and won 10 consecutive terms.
Immediately after winning his seat in 1962, Seaga was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of Development and Welfare, with responsibility for all areas of planning, social development and culture. He initiated the redevelopment of Back-of-Wall, a notorious large slum in West Kingston, and its replacement by housing, schools and community amenities, which was named Tivoli Gardens. He also used his position to continue to promote Jamaican music. Following the 1967 General Elections, Seaga was appointed Minister of Finance and Planning. In 1974 he became Leader of the JLP, in which he served for 30 years; he was also Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition in various periods.
Edward P.G. Seaga became Prime Minister of Jamaica following the General Election of 30 October 1980, when the Jamaica Labour Party won a landslide victory over the incumbent People’s National Party (PNP), with the largest mandate ever. The mandate of Seaga and the Jamaica Labour Party was renewed in the uncontested 1983 General Elections. He continued as Prime Minister until February 1989.
As one of the founding fathers in the framing of the Jamaican Constitution in 1961, Seaga spearheaded far-reaching constitutional reforms. He initiated a re-write of the human rights section of the Constitution, to provide for a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms; creation of the post of Public Defender; and curtailment of some of the powers of the Prime Minister to provide a better balance of power between the executive and the parliament in the Jamaican system of governance.
Controversy: Consider two statements: ‘Edward Seaga saved Jamaica’, and ‘Edward Seaga ‘mash up’ Jamaica.” Columnist and attorney-at-law Daniel Thwaites said that while these diametrically opposed sentiments run to the extremes, both are surprisingly prevalent. “It is a barometer of the lasting contentiousness and potential divisiveness of any appraisal of Papa Eddie.” Thwaites argued that the only other figure in Jamaican political history who could possibly be as controversial as Seaga would be his nemesis, the late former Prime Minister Michael Manley. “And because of their titanic decades-long confrontation, they will be forever – and, perhaps ironically – inextricably linked.”  Other commentators have been much more direct in their criticism of Seaga's legacy.
Contributions to independent Jamaica
Economic and financial development
Seaga established many of the financial institutions required in newly independent Jamaica to build a financial market for successful economic investment and growth, including the following:
- 1967, first Jamaican majority-owned commercial bank - Jamaica Citizens Bank (JCB)
- 1968, Jamaica Stock Exchange
- 1969, decimalization of the Jamaican currency
- 1969, nationalization of financial institutions - banks and insurance companies
- 1969, Introduction of merchant banking
- 1971, Jamaica Unit Trust
1972 Jamaica Mortgage Bank
1981 National Development Bank (NDB)
1981 Agricultural Credit Bank (ACB)
1982 Agro 21
- 1982, Divestment Programme, commencing with lease of government-owned hotels
- 1984, Self-Start Fund
- 1985, Comprehensive Tax Reforms including a flat income tax rate for all
- 1985, Solidarity Programme for micro-businesses
- 1986, Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank)
- 1986, De-regulation of economy, commencing with removal of import licensing; later price controls
- 1986, Privatization of financial institutions - NCB
- 1987, JAMPRO (formerly JNIP)
- 1988, Digiport - first satellite telecommunications data processing operation - Montego Bay
- 1988, One Million Trees Programme
Planning and development
Rural and urban planning and the environment have been prime areas of development in Seaga's career. He has focused on waterfront development in the main coastal towns and cities, rural and urban township development programmes, and the development of parks and markets. They included the following:
- 1963, 5-Year Development Plan
- 1966, Redevelopment of Kingston Waterfront
- 1967, Comprehensively planned urban communities - runs out the rasta from the Back-o-Wall community claiming to redevelop as Tivoli Garden, a modern, fully planned urban development; Hellshire Hills development; Torrington Park
- 1967, Reclamation and development of Ocho Rios Waterfront (Turtle Beach)
- 1968 Urban Development Corporation
1969 Comprehensive development plan for infrastructure of many rural towns (later CRDTDP)
1971 20-Year Physical Development Plan
1983 National Conference Centre - headquarters of the International Seabed Authority
1983 National Committee for Drug Abuse
1985 MPM - Beautification and Public Cleansing
1988 Reclamation of Montego Bay Waterfront
1988 Negril development (Bloody Bay)
1988 Social Well-being Plan
Various Times Land Bank - purchase of 50,000 acres of prime properties for future development (Negril, Orange Bay, Auchindown, Mt. Edgecombe, Seville, Laughing Water, Belmont (Dunns River), Winifred Rest Home property, Caymanas).
Various Times Development of several hotels - Kingston Waterfront, Ocho Rios, Negril.
Seaga was the architect of a wide range of social programmes which expanded training in human resources, aided small enterprises and protected the poor and vulnerable.
1963 Construction of the National Arena
1963 Things Jamaican - craft development
1963 Launching of the Drug Abuse Committee (later Council)
1964 100 Village Community Development Programme
1965 Community sports development on a structured islandwide basis
1965 The Golden Age Movement
1965 The National Volunteers
1970 Student Revolving Loan Fund for Higher Education
1971 National School Feeding Programme
1972 Establishment of Jamaica Racing Commission and Jockey School
1974 Institute of Mass Communication; later renamed Caribbean Institute of Media & Communication (CARIMAC)
1982 H.E.A.R.T. (Human Employment & Resource Training)
1984 Food Stamp Programme for elderly poor and lactating mothers
1984 ARP - Administrative Reform Programme for fundamental Civil Service reforms
1985 Golden Age Home for the elderly poor
1986 L.E.A.P. (Learning for Earning Activity Programme) for street children
1988 P.A.C.E. (Programme for Advancement of Early Childhood Education)
1988 Residential Halls for UWI, UTECH and Cultural Training Centre
Seaga established in independent Jamaica most of the institutions to build cultural awareness and national identity, as well as develop arts, crafts and national heritage.
1963 Jamaica Festival
1964 Promotion to launch Jamaican music (ska) abroad
1964 Return and interment of Marcus Garvey's body at Jamaica
1964 Order of National Heroes - Garvey first named hero
1964 National Heroes Park
1967 Jamaica Journal publication (Institute of Jamaica)
1967 Research and recording of folk culture
1967 Devon House
1968 National Heritage Week
1971 Design of the Cultural Training Centre (Arts, Drama, Music, Painting & Sculpture)
1972 Jamaica Racing Commission and Jockey School
1986 Establishment of the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC)
1988 Planned development of heritage sites (Port Royal, Spanish Town, Seville)
1988 Media Divestment Programme, to establish several small private radio stations and church television
Institutional, parliamentary, political and constitutional reforms
Seaga is recognized as the initiator of some of the most important political, parliamentary and constitutional reforms which affect governance of the country.
1961 Member of the Parliamentary Commission which drafted the Constitution for independent Jamaica
1979 Electoral reforms: structure of EAC
1986 Establishment of Contractor General proposed in 1979
1986 Media Commission
1992 Constitutional Reform: Advocate General (renamed Public Defender)
1993 Constitutional Reform: Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
1994 Several Parliamentary reforms:
- to strengthen the independence of Parliament
- to allow non-Parliamentarians to address Parliament on issues
1994 Money Bills tabled in Parliament to regulate money supply by law
Jamaica is recognized for initiating several far-reaching international programmes within the Caribbean region and worldwide, due to Seaga's proposals to create new international agreements.
1974 UNESCO International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (Culture Bank)
1982 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)
1986 UNDP - United Nations International Short Term Advisory Resources - UNISTAR (Manpower Bank)
1986 Caribbean Democrat Union (CDU)
1986 CARIBCAN (Canada)
- Parent Teacher Relationships, University of the West Indies, 1954
- "Faith Healing in Jamaica", International Parapsychology, 1955
- "Revival Spirit Cults", Jamaica Journal, Institute of Jamaica
- The Origins of Jamaican Popular Music
- Grenada Intervention: The Inside Story, 2009
- Revelations: Beyond Political Boundaries, Lectures 2005–2009
- Edward Seaga: My Life and Leadership: Clash of Ideologies, Volume 1, 2009
- Edward Seaga: Shaping History: Hard Road to Travel, Volume 2, 2010
- Folk Music of Jamaica (album recorded by Ethnic Folkways Library), 1978
- Reggae Golden Jubilee - Origins of Jamaican Music, released on 6 November 2012
On 22 August 1965, Seaga married Marie Elizabeth "Mitsy" Constantine, Miss Jamaica 1965. They had two sons, Christopher and Andrew, and a daughter Anabella. This marriage was dissolved in 1995.
On 14 June 1996, he married Carla Frances Vendryes. Their daughter Gabrielle was born 16 September 2002. With a Masters in Public Administration, Vendryes Seaga has a special interest in sociological research and the development of Jamaican handicraft. She founded the Solidarity project to assist the poor in small entrepreneurial enterprises. She founded an organization to assist victims of violence.
Seaga was deeply involved in cultural activities, particularly folk music and all aspects of things Jamaican. A keen gardener and amateur landscaper, he used his love for plants and flowers to develop the Enchanted Garden resort, a unique attraction in Jamaica.
As an athlete, Seaga played on several college and school teams: field hockey, cricket, football, rifle, tennis and swimming (diving). He participated as a member of various hunting clubs and the Jamaica Skeet Club.
In West Kingston, he became the president of the Tivoli Gardens Football, Basketball and Netball clubs. He then became Chairman of the Premier League Football Association and the Professional Football Association of Jamaica, with responsibility for the 12 Premier League teams and the staging of the Premier League.
Later years and death
On 20 January 2005, Edward Seaga retired as Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, a position which he held for 30 years. He retired as a Member of Parliament after serving for 43 years in the House of Representatives, in addition to two years in the Senate. He has the longest period of continuous service of any elected representative in the Caribbean region.
With appointments to academia at the University of the West Indies, the Institute of Jamaica and the University of Technology, he became engaged in research and writing, as well as teaching and leadership.
Honours and awards
- 1980, Fortune Magazine named him as a "Man of the Year," the first and only such accolade to anyone in this region
- In 1981, Seaga was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II as a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council.
- In 2002, the Government of Jamaica awarded him the Order of the Nation, the second highest honour
In 2005, the University of the West Indies awarded him the honorary title of Distinguished Fellow for Life. He was also installed as a Fellow of the Institute of Jamaica, devoted to the arts and sciences.
- That year, he was appointed as Chancellor of the University of Technology
Seaga was also honoured by several other countries:
- 1981, Republic of Venezuela – Grand Collar de Libertador
- Republic of Venezuela – Gold Mercury International Award; and
- Republic of Korea – Grand Gwangwa Medal, Order of Diplomatic Service
- 1982, Federal Republic of Germany – Grand Cross of the Order of Merit
- 1987, Mexico – Order of the Aztec Eagle
He received several prestigious international awards:
- Gleaner Honour Awards: Man of the Year, 1980, 1981
- Avenue of the Americas Association, N.Y. – Gold Key Award (1981)
- American Friendship Medal bestowed by the Freedom Foundation, 1982
- Pan American Development Foundation Inter-American Man of the Year Development Award (1983)
- Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award (1984)[from whom?]
- United Nations Environment Programme – the Environmental Leadership Award (1987)
Seaga was appointed as a Distinguished Fellow by the University of the West Indies, Fellow of the Institute of Jamaica, and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Technology
- University of Miami, LL.D. (1981)
- Tampa University, LL.D. (1982)
- University of South Carolina, LL.D. (1983)
- Boston University, LL.D. (1983)
- University of Hartford, LL.D. (1987)
- Mason, Peter (28 May 2019). "Edward Seaga obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
- "Birthdays today". The Telegraph. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
Mr Edward Seaga, Prime Minister of Jamaica, 1980–90, 83
- "Profile: Edward Seaga", BBC; retrieved 8 April 2012.
- Helps, HG. "Seaga turns 85 today". The Jamaica Observer.
- Headley, Bernard (16 January 2005). "Edward Seaga: A political life". Jamaica Obverse. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Eder, Bruce "Edward Seaga Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 8 April 2012.
- "VP Records to launch Seaga's 'Origins of Jamaican Music'", Jamaica Observer, 25 September 2012; retrieved 29 September 2012
- "Jamaica Observer Limited". www.jamaicaobserver.com. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
- "[http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20190529/seaga-one-don-controversy Gleaner Company; retrieved 29 May 2019.
- "[https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/14/edward-seaga-and-the-institutionalization-of-thuggery-violence-and-dehumanization-in-jamaica/CounterPunch; retrieved 23 June 2019.
- Edward Seaga has died at 89