11:56 GMT02 August 2021
Listen Live
    Latin America
    Get short URL
    0 11

    Jamaica's ruling party has announced plans to name a brand new Chinese-built motorway on the island after controversial former prime minister Edward Seaga. So what are the rules of naming roads, buildings and airports after politicians and why has there not yet been a Margaret Thatcher Street in Britain?

    Ironically Seaga had opposed the building of the North-South Highway, running from Montego Bay on the north coast, which is popular with tourists, with the capital, Kingston.

    But on Thursday, March 22, the current Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, formally announced the four-lane highway — built by the China Harbour Engineering Company — would be named in honor of Seaga, who is now 87.

    Seaga was born in the US, of Lebanese parents, and was heavily backed by the White House and the CIA during his tenure as prime minister from 1980 until 1989.

    Seaga and Manley's Caribbean Cold War

    His Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was a conservative, pro-American force and his arch-enemy was Michael Manley, leader of the left-wing People's National Party (PNP), who flirted with Fidel Castro's Cuba during his reign as prime minister in the 1970s.

    During the 1976 gangsters in Jamaica's ghettos who pledged allegiance to either the JLP or the PNP declared war on each other, claiming hundreds of lives.

    In 1978 Jamaican reggae superstar Bob Marley persuaded Manley and Seaga to come on stage and shake hands during his One Love peace concert.

    But sadly, at the 1980 election, violence broke out again between JLP and PNP gunmen.

    Manley died in 1997 and he only has a boulevard in Kingston named after him while Jamaica's main airport, Norman Manley International, is named after his father, who founded the PNP and campaigned for Jamaica to be part of a Federation of the West Indies.

    Margaret Thatcher Unloved Five Years After Her Death

    But perhaps Michael Manley should consider himself lucky to have a boulevard named after him because Margaret Thatcher, who was British prime minister from 1979 until 1990, has not had a single road or building named after her, let alone an airport, since her death in 2013.

    Not in the UK anyway.

    In Madrid there is a Plaza Margaret Thatcher, although the Spanish capital's mayor has threatened to rename it.

    ​In Britain motorways are traditionally only given numbers like the M1 and M25 while roads, airports and ships are usually named after Royalty, like HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

    It is rare to name things in Britain after politicians but one exception is Winston Churchill who, although a Conservative, is revered as the country's wartime leader. 

    Thatcher was a very polarizing figure who was equally loved and hated by different parts of the political spectrum. Some left-wingers held parties to celebrate her death  

    Plenty of Honors for US Presidents

    But other divisive figures have had roads and buildings named after them.

    Former US President Ronald Reagan had an airport named after him in 1998, six years before his death.

    Ironically Ronald Reagan Airport near Washington DC only serves destinations within the US while the capital's international airport is named after a man who would have been outranked by Reagan, former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.

    The main airport in New York is named after President John F Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

    Bad Timing in Zimbabwe

    One of the oddest naming decisions happened in November last year.

    On November 9 the main airport in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, was officially named Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

    Twelve days later Mugabe, who had been Zimbabwe's leader since 1980, was finally forced from office after what was effectively a military coup.

    There are currently no plans to remove his name from the airport.


    Jamaica Lauds Russia's Peaceful Implementation of Nuclear Technologies
    Jamaica’s Sprinter Bolt Becomes 9-Time Olympic Champion
    Jamaica's Opposition Set to Win Parliamentary Elections
    UK to Spend $38 Mln on Building Prison in Jamaica – Cameron
    Madrid, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, US, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Robert Mugabe, airport, president, Prime Minister, highway, roads, motorway
    Community standardsDiscussion