JIS News

As the Jamaican community in the New York Metropolitan area mourn the passing of cultural icon the Hon. Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett Coverley, Jamaican Consul General to New York, Dr. Basil K. Bryan has described her as a “phenomenal woman” who dared the world with a peculiar brand of the language of her homeland.
Addressing a meeting of the Jamaica Independence Anniversary Committee (JIAC) at the Jamaican Consulate in Manhattan on Wednesday (July 26),Dr. Bryan said that the news of the passing of Miss Lou came as a “major surprise though”. Dr. Bryan said the beloved folklorist was a true inspiration to Jamaicans everywhere in the Diaspora. “More than anyone else, she proudly presented the Jamaican language and culture to a wider world and today we are the beneficiaries of that audacity,”Dr. Bryan said. Dr. Bryan said Miss Lou, who has been dubbed Jamaica’s First Lady of Comedy, was “a special person to everyone and was a person loved by all, without regard to colour, class, socio-economic status or political affiliation.
“She was truly a shining light and an example of the best of Jamaica, indeed a phenomenal woman,” Dr. Bryan told the meeting.
Miss Lou died on Wednesday morning at the Scarborough Grace Hospital in Toronto, Canada, where she was taken for treatment after reportedly collapsing at home. She was 86 years old and residing in Toronto, Canada for more than a decade.
It was in Jamaica though that she transformed the national cultural landscape, using the tongue of the masses, patois, a derivative of the English language, and the African heritage as colourful backdrop.
Miss Lou would later blossom into a full-fledged poet, comedienne – a rare breed – and folklorist, bringing international acclaim to her body of work on the stage and in the classroom. Her work earned her international acclaim and was recognized by several heads of Government, institutions and organizations, among her rewards were the Order of Merit in 2001 and an Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies.
Just hours before her death, she was scheduled to be honoured by the West Indian American Association of New Jersey, at a civic ceremony at the Jamaican Consulate, in Toronto, Canada. Miss Lou is survived by son Fabian. She will be accorded an official funeral by the government of Jamaica on Thursday, August 3, 2006.

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