Remembering the Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica
May 28, 1930 – May 28, 2019
Expressions of gratitude are echoing throughout the island of Jamaica, and globally on social media, for the life and profound legacy of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (pronounced see-AH-ga), who passed away on May 28, 2019 on his 89th birthday. Current Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, announced on Twitter: “It is with great sadness that I inform the nation of the passing of the Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga, the fifth Prime Minister of Jamaica. He transitioned today at approximately 1:00 pm Jamaica time.”
Edward Seaga was born in Boston in 1930 and made the move to Jamaica with his parents at the tender age of three months. Intelligent, curious, and determined right from childhood, he returned to the U.S. for his post-secondary education; earning a BA in Social Sciences in 1952 from Harvard University. Seaga’s political career began in earnest in 1959. Then, a representative of the Jamaica Labor Party, he was appointed to a council focused on establishing a framework for Jamaica’s independence from Britain. He was 29 years old. That same year, he set up his own record label, West Indies Recording Limited, and helped develop Jamaica’s iconic ska music.
When Seaga was elected to Parliament, affairs of state took precedence in his life. He sold his record label, but his love of music stayed with him to the end. He held the parliamentary seat for 43 years, longer than anyone in Jamaican history. In his terms as Minister of Development and Welfare, and Minister of Finance, he was instrumental in redeveloping a local slum district, setting up the Jamaica Stock Exchange, and creating the Jamaica Citizens Bank.
A staunch conservative, Seaga began his nine-year run as Prime Minister in 1980 after defeating socialist Michael Manley. The long list of achievements and change that took place in Jamaica during that decade is punctuated by a close relationship that developed with the United States, based on ties Seaga helped the island forge with President Ronald Reagan and his administration.
in 2005, Seaga stepped down as leader of the Jamaica Labor Party and as a member of Parliament. In his retirement, he wrote two political memoirs and resumed his research interests, studying Jamaican folklore at the University of West Indies. He is survived by his wife Carla and their daughter, Gabrielle, and three children from his first marriage, Christopher, Andrew, and Anabella. Following a state funeral on June 23, former Prime Minister Seaga was laid to rest at National Heroes Park. May he rest in peace.