Mrs. Pauletta Chevannes has expressed appreciation to the government and people of Jamaica, for honouring her late husband, Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Alston Barrington ‘Barry’ Chevannes, with the Order of Jamaica (OJ), noting that he would have been pleased.
“I want to thank the Prime Minister (Hon. Bruce Golding) for making this offer to him. He would have seen this award as one coming from the Jamaican people,” she said after accepting the posthumous award from Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, on November 12 at King’s House.
She said that although she would have preferred for her late husband to have accepted the award himself, “I do accept it with humility because I know that, that is how he would have accepted it.”
Professor Chevannes, who died on Friday, November 5 after a period of illness, was bestowed with the nation’s fifth highest honour for his outstanding achievements in research, academia, social development and the preservation of Jamaica’s cultural heritage. His daughters, Amba and Abena, were also on hand for the presentation.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, has a moment with Pauletta Chevannes (centre), widow of late Professor Emeritus, University of the West Indies (UWI), Alston Barrington ‘Barry’ Chevannes, and daughter Abena, at a ceremony held on November 12 at King’s House, where the Order of Jamaica was posthumously conferred on the professor.
The Governor-General said the late professor’s work in academia and other areas is clearly known and appreciated by the nation at large. He expressed the hope that the award would give the family “the sort of assurance and comfort that he had not lived in vain and will be one of those individuals, whose footsteps others will try to fill and to emulate.”
“I trust that the honour that (has been) bestowed on him, will also be a means of showing you our appreciation and hope that it will bring great relief also to you and your family as you keep the memento in his honour,” he added.
Social anthropologist, former UWI lecturer, historian and cultural activist, Professor Chevannes passed away at the University Hospital of the West Indies. He was admitted to the hospital in September.
Professor Chevannes’ association with the UWI spans the Institute of Social and Economic Research, now The Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies and the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, where he served as Head.
He was subsequently appointed Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, a position he held until 2004 when he was appointed Director of the newly created Centre for Public Safety and Justice. He played a leadership role in the University Township Project, which built on work that he had done for many years in the surrounding community of August Town.
He was the recipient of several national, international and university awards – Commander of the Order of Distinction, the Institute of Jamaica Centenary Medal for work in the field of culture (1979); the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in the field of social development (1997); the UWI Guild of Graduates Pelican Award for contribution in the field of anthropology (1998); and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in research, teaching, University service, and service to the wider society. He was also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Professor Chevannes was Chair of the Council of the Institute of Jamaica, and founder of Fathers Incorporated, and Partners for Peace. He also chaired the National Commission on Ganja from 2000 to 2001. He was a member of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) of the Ministry of National Security; Chairman of the Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force and Co-chaired the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development.
Prime Minister Golding; Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Rev. Ronald Thwaites; and Principal of UWI, Professor Gordon Shirley, were among those who attended today’s ceremony.