JIS News

Members of the House of Representatives paid tribute to the late Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford OM, with many sharing memories of personal encounters with the regional icon on Tuesday (February16).
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding hailed him as a researcher, historian and innovator, who remained passionately committed to advancing the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Mr. Golding said Professor Nettleford’s most significant undertaking was, perhaps, the UWI commissioned research on the Rastafari Movement, which he completed in 1961 in collaboration with M.G. Smith and Sir Roy Augier, at a time when there was apprehension towards the movement.
The Prime Minister said that Professor Nettleford was a “superb historian”, whose writings, speeches and commentaries connected the dots between Jamaica’s past and present.
“He kept reminding us that we had to remember where we are coming from and, for those of us who were not inclined to bother ourselves in trying to trace those roots, he helped us out and he made the link between that past and he shined a light into the future,” Mr. Golding said.
Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, pointed to what she called his “afro-centric Jamaican social philosophy”, noting that he used every means at his disposal to promote equality among the races.
She said Professor Nettleford’s book, ‘Mirror Mirror’, remains one of the most profound statements on race in Jamaica, although the contents are far from racist.
“In this book, first published in 1970, Professor Nettleford challenged us all to create a new Jamaica, in which the black majority could find an equal place with their fellow citizens. We still have a long way to go in this regard,” Mrs. Simpson Miller stated.
She added that, throughout his life, Professor Nettleford’s voice could be heard calling for a focus on the creative energy and imagination of the Jamaican people.
“He once said that Jamaicans have the remarkable ability to find a problem for every solution. If our people could rechannel our energy into that which could take us forward, we would be amazed how far along the way we could be,” she said.
Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, Hon. Andrew Holness, who opened the contributions, focussed on the Professor’s work as a teacher using his job to embolden and empower students.
“Professor Rex Nettleford localised everything he taught in the Caribbean experience, from colonial exploitation and slavery to emancipation, the struggle for civil rights, equality and justice, all in this post slavery period,” Mr. Holness said.
He added that the late Professor saw the independence of Caribbean states as a second Emancipation, as he believed that Caribbean people would never be truly free until they took full control of their political affairs.
Member of Parliament for East Central St. Andrew, Dr. Peter Phillips, called Professor Nettleford an “unrelenting nationalist” who was “somewhat political, yet transcended politics.”
“He served Governments of whatever persuasion and, indeed, was open to giving advice and to answering the call from Prime Ministers. He did so honestly and faithfully, not only in Jamaica, but throughout the wider Caribbean,” Dr. Phillips said.
Professor Nettleford died on February 2 at the George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C. in the United States at age 76, while on a visit. An official funeral was held on Tuesday (February 16) at the University Chapel, Mona campus in Kingston.

Skip to content