Cemeteries have been around since time immemorial. Our cemeteries serve varied purposes, including being the final resting place or burial area for the dead. In addition cemeteries yield significant information about our society’s social, religious, artistic and cultural heritage. Our cemeteries also serve as outdoor museums and monuments to the past. Additionally, our cemeteries can provide many exciting career opportunities; careers in archaeology, specifically bio-archaeology should be explored by our students.

The May Pen Cemetery in Kingston is one of the oldest public cemeteries in the English speaking Caribbean. However, over the years and despite successive governments, the May Pen cemetery continues to be in a state of disrepair.

In recent times the chapel and other parts of the cemetery have become a haven for the many homeless individuals in and around Kingston. An entire generation of Jamaicans has been brought without appreciating and respecting the space of the dead. In many instances our children play and roam some our corporate area cemeteries. It’s not unusual to see young children playing on or even eating on graves.

The continued deplorable state of the May Pen Cemetery does not augur well for us as a society. The constant eyesore of the May Pen Cemetery serves only to reinforce the economic divide that is present in the society. Which it can be argued that the rich in the society no longer bury their dead in the May Pen Cemetery; many notable Jamaicans are interred there. 

Lets us commit to restoring the May Pen cemetery. Maybe the powers that be should include the May Pen cemetery among the major projects this Labour Day.

As Jamaicans we all have a collective responsibility in ensuring that the May Pen cemetery is restored to a burial site of dignity.   

Wayne Campbell