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Members of the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors, academia and the Jamaican community residing in Washington D.C. and the metro areas began paying tribute to the late Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Rex Nettleford O.M. on Friday (February 12), when a condolence book was officially opened at the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, DC.
Jamaican Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Anthony Johnson was the first to sign the book.
In a brief statement Ambassador Johnson said that “all Jamaicans, irrespective of where they live, are saddened by the passing of (the) cherished member of the Jamaican family. As an outstanding son of Jamaica, he was loved and respected by nationals all over the world”.
He noted that by Professor Nettleford’s passing, Jamaica and the Caribbean have lost one of its leading intellectuals, educators and cultural icons. The void which has been created, he said, cannot be filled, and the region will be the poorer for his passing.
Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Miguel Insulza said, that by all accounts, Professor Nettleford was a man of extraordinary passion, talent and intellect, who dedicated his life to developing his chosen craft of dance and to promoting Jamaican culture. Mr. Insulza said that it was his great hope that
Mr. Nettleford’s work ethic, creativity and irrepressible spirit will continue to inspire younger generations of Jamaicans to greatness.
President of the UWI Alumni Association of Washington DC, Shashana Crichton described Professor Nettleford as a shining example of the best of UWI and indeed the entire region. “As former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and Vice Chancellor Emeritus, he played a strong role in maintaining the indelible bonds between the university and its alumni, both here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and across the globe,” she stated.
Diaspora Advisory Board member for the North-East United States, Patrick Beckford, in his tribute, stated that Professor Rex Nettleford was a pioneer in the establishment of the Diaspora movement. “As the chair-elect of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, Professor Nettleford spoke fondly of the future development and value of the Jamaican Diaspora to our nation’s development. We are indebted to his inspired leadership in our yet unrealised potential,” he said.
The condolence book will remain open at the Embassy until Tuesday, February 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. Ambassadors representing Caribbean countries in Washington D.C, and representatives of Jamaican organisations have been invited to sign the book.
Professor Nettleford, who founded the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), died on February 2 at the George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C., in the United States at age 76. An official funeral for Professor Nettleford will be held on February 16 at the University Chapel, Mona campus.
Professor Nettleford was born on February 3, 1933 at Bunkers Hill in the parish of Trelawny and served as Vice Chancellor of UWI, Mona Campus from 1996 to 2004.