Once again, we pause to pay homage to our mother of Jamaican culture, the late Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverly O.M., cultural icon par excellence.
Miss Lou, as we fondly call her, is one of those Jamaicans whose life’s work and worth have caused us to understand who and what we are and led us to ultimately believe in ourselves. Her long years of respecting and promoting the ordinary Jamaican people through tasteful and riveting commentary on their lives, traditions and customs, executed in our native tongue, have allowed us to appreciate our own creations, even as others sought to undervalue our very substance.
Today, we recall with pride Miss Lou’s incursions in our hearts, where she continues to live today. Even as "dutty" continues to be “tough”, we maintain our resilience and inner strength as we "tek wi han’ mek fashion” in the interest of our children. Yes, we are a people who know hard times, but we are never daunted by the reality. We also knew we could overcome like so many of the characters in Miss Lou’s poetry. From the “Candy lady” to "Uriah Preach” to “Sarah Chice” to “Aunty Roachy", through “Pedestrian Crosses” to "Nuh Likkle Twang", we face ourselves through her poetry and revel in the joy of our social interactions as so endearingly depicted by her.
Miss Lou’s work is timeless. Her influence on so many other noteworthy cultural practitioners, from theatre to dance to Reggae and dancehall, has been legendary. Her contribution to our cultural identity that allowed us to embrace our various idiosyncrasies cannot be overstated.
Miss Lou was a woman of strength, courage, and possessed an immense passion for maintaining the uniqueness of the Jamaican. A timeless cultural icon, Miss Lou has left us with a legacy through her work and music that will continue to inspire the Jamaican people.
As we prepare to celebrate our nation's growth and development through our Golden Jubilee in 2012, a grateful nation pauses once more to honour the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverly for the value she brought to our lives by allowing us to discover and enjoy the wonders of one of the most beautiful of our creations: our language.
Today, as always, we salute you, Miss Lou, Mother of Jamaican Culture.
Olivia Grange, MP
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture