Three heroes who ‘made Bermuda a better place'

  • Great grand children of Dr EF Gordon, brothers Elijah and Ethan Daley, carry mementos of the occasion at the National Heroes Day Induction Ceremony on Sunday evening. 19.6.11

    Great grand children of Dr EF Gordon, brothers Elijah and Ethan Daley, carry mementos of the occasion at the National Heroes Day Induction Ceremony on Sunday evening. 19.6.11
    (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • National Heroes Day Induction 2011

    National Heroes Day Induction 2011
    (Photos by Mark Tatem)

  • National Heroes Day

    National Heroes Day

  • National Heroes Day Induction 2011

    National Heroes Day Induction 2011

Bermuda's new national heroes

Dr Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon (Mazumbo) 1895-1955

Regarded as “the father of the labour movement,” the labour leader worked tirelessly on behalf of downtrodden workers.
Born in Trinidad and educated at Edinburgh University in Scotland, he came to Bermuda in 1924 to work as a physician in Somerset.
He was appalled by segregation and challenged racism at every turn, including championing the rights of black Bermudian nurses, whose American qualifications were not recognised by local authorities.
He founded the Bermuda Workers Association (which was the forerunner of the Bermuda Industrial Union) and became president in 1944.
He became a parliamentarian in 1946, gaining a seat as a Member of Colonial Parliament, and when white parliamentarians refused to address him as Dr Gordon, he changed his name to his African name, Mazumbo.
Described as a leading figure in 20th Century Bermuda, whose activism brought about many of the reforms adopted after his death, his work is said to have inspired many.

Sir Henry James ‘Jack' Tucker 1903-1986

For more than three decades, he was said to be the undeniable ‘boss of bosses' in Bermuda politics and banking.
He started work at the Bank of Bermuda in 1934 and was also a founding member of the Forty Club for Front Street merchants with club members becoming known as the ‘Forty Thieves.'
He transformed the Bank of Bermuda from a local bank to an international financial institution and also helped to lay the foundation for international business as his goal was to make Bermuda “the Switzerland of the Atlantic.”
In 1938 he was elected to Parliament and six years later he piloted the Parliament Bill to give women the right to vote.
He played a leading role in establishing the United Bermuda Party and in 1968 became the first Government Leader in the first general election held under a new Constitution and a two-party system. During his tenure, he presided over the dismantling of segregated schools in 1971.
l He was knighted in 1971 and again in 1972.

Dr Pauulu Kamarakafego (Roosevelt Brown) 1932-2007

He used his voice and his mind to initiate change in Bermuda and around the world, as he planted ideas and changed social environments everywhere he went.
He attended Howard Academy, university in South Carolina, then got his Ph.D in Ecological Engineering in California.
He formed the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage (CUAS) in 1960 to directly address the issue of reform of the franchise. Its work was directly responsible for abolishing the property vote and the passing the Parliamentary Election Act of 1963.
The CUAS campaign to change the voting system also planted the seeds for the first political party, the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party.
He taught all over the world maintaining consultancies to governments and a number of international organisations including the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He has been honoured by the Anti-Apartheid Committee for his contribution to Universal Adult Suffrage in Bermuda, the Friswell's Hill United Community and in 1992 he was presented with the first Outstanding Human Rights Award by the Bermuda Human Rights Commission.

Three trailblazers who made Bermuda what it is today have been inducted as the country's new national heroes.

About 200 people attended the National Heroes Day Induction Ceremony to celebrate the lives of Dr Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon (Mazumbo), Dr Pauulu Kamarakafego (Roosevelt Brown) and Sir Henry James ‘Jack' Tucker.

The crowd at the Botanical Gardens showring was told on Father's Day how these three men were our “founding fathers” for their leadership abilities in social and political reform.

Each of their biographies was read out by a member of the Naming and Recognition Committee before proud family members were presented with an engraved glass memento featuring a picture of their loved one.

The late Dr Gordon was said to make “organised labour a force to be reckoned with” having stood up for downtrodden workers and founded the Bermuda Workers Association, which was the forerunner of the Bermuda Industrial Union.

Former Premier Alex Scott told the crowd how Dr Gordon was a physician, parliamentarian and labour leader who was relentless in challenging social and political inequities. He was said to have “courage, feistiness and dogged determination.”

Mr Scott said: “He is regarded as the father of the labour movement of Bermuda. He changed our Island forever … his legacy lives on today.”

Mr Scott told the story of how Dr Gordon had tried to make white parliamentarians apologise after they'd failed to address him as a doctor. Dr Gordon is said to have changed his name then declared: “I shall be known as Mazumbo. No one need prefix my name with mister or doctor, I am just plain Mazumbo.”

Mr Scott explained: “He was in Bermuda and black and wanted to be known as a name that belonged to his race.”

As well as public achievements, Mr Scott also highlighted Dr Gordon's family side as his children lovingly knew him as “a 5ft giant.” His daughters, Bermuda's first female Premier Pamela Gordon and OBA MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, proudly sat in the crowd.

Mr Scott read out a poem that Ms Gordon-Pamplin who was called ‘Princess Pat' by her father had written as a child. The poem explained how he was a dedicated family man who loved having fun with his children.

And it was the youngest members of Dr Gordon's family who stole the show as his great-grandchildren Ethan and Elijah Daley, aged just ten and five, made their way to the stage to collect his National Hero award.

The late Sir Henry was said to be the “boss of bosses” as he laid the foundation for international business to come to Bermuda, gave women the right to vote and was instrumental in establishing the United Bermuda Party.

UBP leader Kim Swan said it is without a doubt that Sir Henry is “one of the architects of modern Bermuda.”

He said it was a honour to salute Sir Henry who recognised the time had come to change and travelled to London in 1966 to discuss and draft a new constitution. He said “many people had been inspired and influenced by his life and legacy.”

Mr Swan said: “He wanted to make Bermuda the Switzerland in the Atlantic and was able to utilise his international personal contacts to help Bermuda become the wonderful place that it is today.

“Even though he was an accomplished businessman, underneath he had a lot of humility and compassion for his fellowman. ”

Mr Tucker's son Robert Tucker took to the stage to collect Sir Henry's posthumous award.

The late Dr Kamarakafego formed the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage and also planted the seeds for the setting up of the Progressive Labour Party. He was a civil rights leader, a political activist, a parliamentarian, an ecological engineer and a United Nations' NGO worker.

Former Senator and radio personality Thaao Dill said “Uncle Roose” was a hero for “many, many reasons.” He said you would have to set aside several weekends to Google his name to see all his life's achievements.

Mr Dill talked about how Dr Kamarakafego's fought for one person, one vote instead of the property vote as he realised people only “mattered because of coins not because of character.”

Mr Dill said: “He was a futurist before the term had even been invented. He was a generation ahead of himself.

“He gave us the gift of applied logic ... without Dr Kamarakafego, life in Bermuda wouldn't make sense. We would be less free, we would be less just, we would simply be less.”

Dr Kamarakafego's sister Irene Maybury went on stage to collect his award, with an honour guard from Bermuda's Sea Cadets.

The three men were selected to be this year's national heroes after Government asked for the public to submit nominations. They will now be celebrated on National Heroes Day alongside Dame Lois Browne-Evans, Bermuda's first selected hero.

The ceremony was attended by a whole host of dignitaries including Acting Governor David Arkley, Acting Premier Derrick Burgess and Community Development Minister Michael Weeks.

Mr Burgess said the work of these three heroes had gone uncelebrated “for far too long.”

He said: “Their achievements made Bermuda a better place. We salute them, they will be remembered forever.

“They gave everything of themselves so that we can enjoy a better tomorrow.”

Mr Weeks said the three heroes had become “leaders in the face of adversity” as they had “ushered in a new and more democratic Bermuda.”

He said: “These were three great men … each worked tirelessly with dedicated passion.

“It remains our job to continue on with their hard work.”

The two-hour ceremony included a dance performance by TROIKA, music from The Menuhin Foundation, as well as poems by CedarBridge Academy student Chrisante Bean and Vejay Steede.

It ended with about 50 pupils, aged from pre-school to senior school age, taking to the stage for a rendition of the song ‘Proud to be a Bermudian' by John Woolridge. The crowd proudly clapped their hands and sang along.

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Published Jun 21, 2011 at 8:28 am (Updated Jun 21, 2011 at 8:25 am)

Three heroes who ‘made Bermuda a better place'

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