JIS News

Former Prime Ministers of Jamaica, the Most Hon Edward Seaga and the Most Hon P.J. Patterson, paid tributes to the late Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford, during Tuesday’s (February 16) sitting of the House of Representatives at Gordon House in Kingston.
Mr. Seaga remembered Professor Nettleford as an individual who has helped to preserve Jamaica’s history for future reference.
“I think more Jamaicans should take that step to preserve their history, in a way that it will be useful to the future and not to rely upon oral history,” Mr. Seaga said.
The Former Prime Minister stated that Professor Nettleford was proud of his roots and spoke about them with a passion derived from the success he had achieved through his journey “from nowhere to somewhere.”
“These roots were the original, as described in the language of the street, because they were pure, rural and unadulterated as only rural society can be. This is where folk society flourishes the best, retaining the secrets of the ages, unchangeable and sometimes unfathomable, leaving many to ponder how rural folk life is so rich in its own peculiar lifestyle,” Mr. Seaga said.
He also noted that Professor Nettleford had special talents which earned him recognition as an exceptional man.
Former Prime Minister Patterson stated that the tributes to Professor Nettleford demonstrated the quality of his exemplary contribution to his country, the region and the world.
“Despite his passionate belief in the nationalist movement, Rex Nettleford stoutly resisted the temptation to seek or hold political office. Yet, the record would show that his ideas and indeed his very words have echoed within this chamber and have influenced decision making at the highest levels,” Mr. Patterson said.
He added that while service to the people of the Caribbean was Professor Nettleford’s constant motivation, the University of the West Indies was his life.
In his remarks, former UWI Chancellor and Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, described Professor Nettleford as an “incandescent eagle”.
“I borrowed it (the phrase) from him. It was among his own last words, at least the last words that he wrote. He wrote them in the December issue of Caribbean Quarterly, and he was not, of course, writing about himself but the words, I suggest, do fit,” Sir Shridathl said.
He credited Professor Nettleford with an inner glowing light that “soared with vision and with power from a humble nest in Jamaica.”
“That journey of his life made him possess and, in turn, be possessed by the multitudes who are here today in spirit with us,” he said.
Professor Nettleford died on February 2 at the George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C. in the United States at age 76. An official funeral was held on February 16 at the University Chapel, Mona campus in Kingston.

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