A Cultural Tribute/Memorial Service to celebrate the life of the late former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Rex Nettleford, was held recently at the Revivaltime Tabernacle, one of the largest churches in Toronto.
The event featured the Dancers of Toronto, an impressive group of young persons dancing to a variety of music and dub poetry, somewhat reminiscent of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), which was founded by Professor Nettleford. Equally moving was Tereka Tyler-Davis, who danced solo to ‘Many Rivers to Cross’. All the dances were choreographed by Andrea Douglas, a former dancer with the NDTC, now living in Toronto.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Sheila Sealy Monteith, paid tribute to the late Professor, describing him as Jamaica’s equivalent of a Nobel poet laureate.
Dancers of Toronto, perform at the Rex Nettleford Cultural Tribute/Memorial Service, held recently at the Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto, Canada.
“The Government and people of Jamaica join with us today on yet another occasion where we’re allowed to reflect upon and pay tribute to his life and work. He was an extraordinary man with an extraordinary life and who had an extraordinary impact on his fellow human beings. Yet even as he walked with kings he maintained the proverbial common touch,” she said.
“We are aware that we can never adequately express the depth of the appreciation we have for the difference he has made in the life of our country – its culture, politics, education, the trade union movement, so many facets of national life,” the High Commissioner added.
She said that the Professor’s life was grounded in excellence and service, and that he found common cause with those who sought to harness good for the improvement of self and country.
In his remarks, Consul General to Toronto, Mr. George Ramocan, described Professor Nettleford as “an intellectual giant, cultural scientist and historian who was truly engaged in the affairs of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world.”
Drummers performing Kumina, at the Rex Nettleford Cultural Tribute/Memorial Service, held recently at the Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto, Canada.
“The victorious life of this world-class intellectual who emerged from the cane fields of Trelawny is a testimony to the great potential that lies within our youth, who if given the opportunity, can soar to heights beyond the shores of Jamaica,” he said.
Delivering the Homily, Bishop Dr. Audley James, who was born three miles from Rex Nettleford in Trelawny, described him as a great Jamaican, and said his greatness was probably as a result of a single mother’s prayer for her son.
“He was endowed with greatness; he was gifted with greatness; he modelled greatness; and every time he opened his mouth and spoke, he spoke greatness,” Dr. James told the congregation.
Other tributes came from Ms. Elizabeth Parchment of the UWI Alumni Association (Toronto); President of the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation (JDCF), Mrs. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams; President of Jones & Jones, Ms. Denise Jones; and Head of the Caribbean Studies programme at the University of Toronto Professor Alyssa Trotz, Professor Alyssa Trotz.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Sheila Sealy Monteith (second right),and Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Mr. George Ramocan (second left), at the Cultural Tribute/Memorial Service for the late Professor Rex Nettleford, which was held recently at the Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto, Canada. Others (from left) are: President of the Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation, Mrs. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams; and Senior Pastor of the Revivaltime Tabernacle, Bishop Dr. Audley James.
The scripture lesson was read by Ms. Maud Fuller, former president of the UWI Alumni Association (Toronto). Stirring renditions of ‘Our Father’ and ‘I’ll Walk With God’ were delivered by Glenda Roy-Hamilton and Marie English-Critchlow, respectively, while The Heritage Singers did a medley of folk and gospel songs.
Proceeds from the service will be donated to the newly established Rex Nettleford Foundation for Caribbean Cultural and Social Studies.