Man is said to be logical. But our opinions often seem determined as much by emotion as by reason. We have all heard the rational pro and con arguments, yet most people’s views on capital punishment remain based on feelings and not facts.


(April 23, Shakespeare’s birthday, was World Book Day. It passed unnoticed in Jamaica.)

A recent poll on the BBC internet site chose Johannes Gutenberg, the creator of the printing press, as the greatest inventor of the millennium. Surely he was the right choice, for no invention of the past thousand years has so changed society. Before the development of  printing in about 1450, the number of manuscripts in Europe could be counted in thousands. Fifty years later there were more than 9,000,000 books. The printing press took knowledge from the province of a privileged few and made it available to all. If knowledge is power, this was the greatest empowerment of the people in history.


The last national hero was chosen over 20 years ago. A new addition is long overdue, and what better time to debate the question than black history month? Many say former Prime Minister Michael Manley should be the next official hero, while others argue for reggae legend Bob Marley. Both made great contributions to their country and neither would be a bad choice. But there is someone with far greater claims than either - the person who almost single-handedly gave Jamaicans pride in their cultural heritage and is at the same time the most universally loved personality this nation has produced – Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett.