Hero Profile – Norman Washington Manley

Norman Manley was born at Roxborough, Manchester, on July 4, 1893. For Manley achievement of excellence was the norm; he was a world-class high-school athlete, Rhodes Scholar, decorated World War I military hero, prize man of Gray’s Inn, acknowledged as the Caribbean’s finest legal mind, and the first Jamaican to appear before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

In September 1938, Manley was invited to head the country’s first major political organisation, the People’s National Party, by party architect O.T. Fairclough. He was elected chief minister in 1955 and 1959, and led negotiations for Jamaica’s Independence in 1962.

Gleaner contributor Kevin O’Brien Chang noted that Norman Manley was the greatest lawyer in Jamaican history. A visiting colonial authority concluded, “Whenever a man in this country gets into trouble, he first flies to Mr Manley, and if Mr Manley is already retained, he next flies to Cuba.”

Hotheads often threatened: “I will kill you and get Missah Manley to get me off!”

Read more about Jamaica’s first and only premier here.