JIS News

The inaugural Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett-Coverley Festival was held on Saturday (October 15) in Gordon Town, St. Andrew.

The event, which was held in the community’s square named in her honour, celebrates the life and legacy of the late beloved Jamaican cultural icon, and forms part of the country’s ongoing 60th Independence Anniversary celebrations.

It featured the works of Dr. Bennett-Coverley, depicted in poetry readings, song medleys, dances, storytelling, and dramatic performances.

The festival was officially launched by Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, who paid tribute to Miss Lou.

Mrs. Holness noted that her contributions have been invaluable to the development and global recognition of Jamaican culture.

“Festivals like these are important because they memorialise our cultural treasures and are excellent avenues of social and economic empowerment. It is important that these festivals be mobilised right across Jamaica, with the possibilities in mind to maximise their impact on society,” she said.

The festival received support from various private and public sector entities dedicated to preserving the memory of Miss Lou.

They include the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), and Canadian High Commission.

Festival founder and Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, in her remarks said the event, to be staged annually, seeks to preserve Miss Lou’s works and memory for future generations.

“At a time, under colonial rule, when Jamaican language, Jamaican culture, and ‘Jamaicanism’ wasn’t respected, Miss Lou stood steadfast, and that is why we are here. I am here… because I want to make sure every Jamaican child understands the work that Miss Lou has done and that we continue to salute her and study her work, not in a one dimensional way, but in the nuance and multiple ways that Miss Lou wrote. She was a tremendous writer,” she said.

Professor Adisa noted that Miss Lou broke many barriers, among them being the first black woman to attend the Royal Academy in London.

She also shared that Dr. Bennett-Coverley was the second black woman to host a radio show on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), among other notable achievements.

This year marks the 103rd anniversary of the birth of the ‘Mother of Jamaican Culture’.

Born September 7, 1919, Dr. the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley was a world-renowned poet and performer and is widely considered one of the country’s foremost purveyors of Jamaican culture. She died July 26, 2006.

Among the extensive awards bestowed in recognition of her work, was Miss Lou’s appointment as a Member of the Order of Merit (OM) for distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture by the Government of Jamaica in 2001.

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