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As Jamaicans in South Florida continue to mourn the loss of the late Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou), a condolence book will be opened to the public at the Consulate General of Jamaica in Miami tomorrow (August 1).
Jamaica’s Consul-General to the Southeast USA, Ricardo Allicock, in sharing the loss, described Miss Lou as being larger than life, noting that “her lifework is a testament to the fact that the thoughtful, loving, passionate nurture of even the humblest of pursuits or interests can lead to great, lifelong personal satisfaction”.
In a farewell tribute to Jamaica’s cultural icon, the Consul-General described her as an all round entertainer, noting the many roles she filled during an illustrious career, namely poet, playwright, comedienne, actor, lyricist and actor.
“She uplifted our indigenous language through academic research and presentation, and distributed it, to the benefit of the elite and the ordinary alike, through her abundant and extraordinary comedic talent,” he added.
Mr. Allicock spoke of the fervent and patriotic efforts made in regard to her chosen interest, which led to tremendous public acclaim and impact. “More than anything, Louise Bennett taught us that there is pride and profundity in even the simplest of things,” he said.
Miss Lou died at age 86, last Wednesday (July 26), in Toronto, Canada where she had resided for more than a decade.
During Emancipation and Independence celebrations in 2003, Miss Lou was special guest of the Government of Jamaica, at which time she participated in several activities in observance of the nation’s 41st anniversary.
Throughout her career, Miss Lou was the recipient of many awards and accolades, including the Order of Merit in 2001, the Order of Jamaica in 1974, the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in the field of Arts, the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold medals for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture, and in 1983 the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies.
In another tribute, Director of the Florida based Jamaica Folk Revue, Norma Darby spoke of the immeasurable contributions made by Miss Lou, describing her as “a true giant”.
She praised Miss Lou for “her legacy which has given us pride and dignity in our cultural heritage”.More importantly, Mrs. Darby said that, “the great folklorist made Jamaicans proud of our vernacular, knowing that it is respected as another language and not a bastardization of the English Language”.