JIS News

Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, George Ramocan, has said that with the passing of Professor Rex Nettleford, Jamaica has lost an intellectual and cultural giant.
He said that during his many years of work in the intellectual and cultural community, the late Professor “helped to shape an understanding of what Jamaica and Jamaicans are really about. He symbolised for many, the hope of the higher aspirations to which the ordinary Jamaican person could reach.”
“He was consistently a man who stood for excellence, a man who pointed consistently to the way of the higher achievements that could be attained. His fame, his name, his work, is very well known and respected around the region and in parts of the world,” added Mr. Ramocan.
The Consul General said that Professor Nettleford’s passing has come as a shock but noted that his legacy will live on through his publications and the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), which he founded. “We continue and will continue to benefit from the great contribution that he has made to Jamaica and the wider community of the Caribbean,” he stated.
Professor Nettleford, Vice Chancellor Emeritus at the University of the West Indies (UWI) died on February 2, a day before his 77th birthday, after suffering a massive heart attack while visiting Washington, D.C.
President of the UWI Alumni Association in Toronto and a personal friend of Professor Nettleford’s, Maud Fuller, said she had prepared herself for the inevitable after he suffered the massive heart attack.
“He passed in one of the ways he would have chosen to pass and for that I am grateful. He was just the greatest friend anyone could ever have. I knew the personal Rex, I knew the fun Rex.if you were a friend, consider yourself blessed. He was indeed my friend.”
Ms. Fuller, who was a member of the “Lou and Ranny” radio show many years ago in Jamaica, said Professor Nettleford was due in Toronto last Saturday, January 30, after leaving Washington, and was supposed to have had dinner with her the following day.
“A piece of me has died but not all of me. I have to keep him in memory, and whenever I can, however I can, keep his memory fresh in other people’s minds. He will not have died for nothing. His death has meaning,” she said.
President of Arts and Culture Jamaica Inc., Cherita Girvan Campbell, while expressing sadness at the passing of Professor Nettleford, noted his invaluable contribution to Caribbean intellectual thought and culture.
“There has been no greater proponent of the wealth of Jamaican and indeed Caribbean arts and culture than Rex Nettleford. His work as founder of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica; his work as a dancer, teacher and choreographer, has made a remarkable contribution to the field of dancing internationally and his legacy will live on for all to share,” she stated.
Entertainer Letna Allen-Rowe, who performs as cultural icon “Miss Lou”, added that there will never be another Professor Rex Nettleford. “He brought to the stage of life a uniqueness that nobody can emulate,” she stated.
Recalling that he taught her history at the Jamaica School of Drama, Ms. Allen-Rowe said: “I have never learnt history the way that he taught me. Everything that he taught us, my group, my batch, is still resounding. He had an impeccable influence on the people he met and he is one person you cannot forget.”
Plans are now underway to stage a memorial service for Professor Nettleford in Toronto.