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Paul Bogle’s enduring legacy


FREEDOM FIGHTER Paul Bogle led one of the defining moments in Jamaica’s struggle for political and economical advancement following the abolition of slavery.

Bogle’s final words before he was executed were: “Today I stand here a victim, but the truth is I’ll never die.” His poignant words have proved true.

Named a National Hero alongside George William Gordon, Marcus Garvey, Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley in 1969, Bogle’s face is depicted on the heads side of the Jamaican 10 cent coin and appeared on the Jamaican $2 bill when in circulation between 1969 and 1989.

Revered with a high school named after him in his home parish of St Thomas, he has also been referenced in pop culture.

In Bob Marley’s song So Much Things to Say, the reggae legend sung Bogle’s name in the same breath as Jesus Christ and Marcus Garvey: “I'll never forget no way they turned their backs on Paul Bogle, so don't you forget no youth who you are and where you stand in the struggle."

Speaking exclusively to The Voice, Bogle’s great great-grandson Constantine ‘Con’ Bogle shares his story of being a descendant of one of Jamaica’s most loved icons...

“Being a surviving ancestor of one of Jamaica’s most iconic loved national heroes is a great feeling. However, it can also be depressing when you come up in life and see your family suffering and count the number of Bogles who cannot pay to send their children to school when you realise the level of sacrifices your family have made.

“It’s also hard to reconcile the juxtaposition of being celebrated on one hand – bestowed the highest honour a nation can award a human being and called a National Hero – yet, on the other hand, is emptiness.

DESCENDANT: Constantine Bogle

“Everything was stripped and taken away from Paul and his family. Not just 500 acres of land but all livestock – the cows, donkeys, horses, goats and sheep. This is what people do not understand. The family’s wealth was stripped to nothing and we the Bogle family have suffered as a consequence.

“Paul Bogle was a God-fearing man and it was Christ within him, which gave him the strength to do what he did for Jamaica. I do not know of any wealthy man today who will walk from Stony Gut to Spanish Town He gave up every earthly possession. This is what separates him from the other heroes. We are not talking about a man who was in want or lacked anything. He did not lead the rebellion from St Thomas to Spanish Town because he was seeking something for himself; he already had it. He was a successful, wealthy self-made businessman.

"He had a horse, which in today’s society would be equivalent to a Lexus, Benz or Beema. He didn’t have any reason, apart from his love and affection for the people and this is why I adore him; his act was selfless. I am proud to be identified as the great great-grandson of Paul Bogle.

Earlier this month, the people of St Thomas remembered him on October 10 with an all-night candlelit vigil similar to one he did enacted with people coming from all walks of life. On the morning of October 11, we moved on to Morant Bay and marched in his honour. On October 24, there was a memorial service with exclusive guest speakers, which took place in front of the courthouse on the same spot marking 150 years since he was executed. Most people don’t know and are still struggling to comprehend Paul Bogle had and still has real family.

"There is a thinking he just dropped out of the sky. If I tell someone I am from St Thomas and family to Paul Bogle, you get ‘the look’. Also, my great, great grandfather was a very elegant person. He was always suited and booted. If you look at a picture of Paul Bogle, you will know you are looking at a king. There is no man who can rise up and stand up to the powers that be, unless they are royal. I see myself coming from a serious bloodline.”

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