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National Anthem co-authors finally have their day

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer senior staff reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2011    

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IT took 49 years of lobbying, letter writing, and a Sunday Observer exposé, but finally the late Eugene Mapletoft Poulle and his widow, Christine Alison Poulle, now Christine Alison Lindo, have been recognised for their role in the composition of the Jamaica National Anthem.

Neither of the two was at King's House yesterday to receive their well-deserved honours from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen — Mapletoft Poulle being deceased, and Lindo being ill — and so their son Peter Poulle received both awards on their behalf.

The National Anthem, completed only days before Jamaica's independence on August 6, 1962, is the creative work of four persons — the late Rev Hugh Sherlock, the late Robert Lightbourne, Mapletoft Poulle and the then Mrs Poulle (now remarried to Raymond Lindo).

But up until yesterday Poulle and Lindo had not been recognised for their contribution to the historic work.

After the Sunday Observer story, headlined 'The Forgotten Woman', in late October this year, Prime Minister Bruce Golding ordered an investigation which culminated in the Poulles being singled out for special national honours.

"Our failure to recognise and honour their contribution to our national heritage is a gross oversight which will be corrected this year," Golding said in announcing the couple would be honoured for their contribution.

Lindo was yesterday awarded with the Order of Distinction, Officer Rank (OD), while Mapletoft Poulle, who died in 1981, was awarded posthumously with the Order of Distinction, Commander Rank (CD).

The 83-year-old Lindo was very pleased with the award and would have loved to collect it herself, their son Peter Poulle told the Observer yesterday.

"She's doing fine but she's not as strong as she used to be so she couldn't make it today," he said of his mother. "I would have preferred that she come rather than myself, because it's their day."

Recalling the composing style of his parents, Poulle said his father would play a piece of music while his mother would sing, making up the words as she went along.

"They were two different personalities. My mother just loved singing. She would help create the words while my father worked on the music part of it. But she was one who didn't like the spotlight at all," he reminisced.

Having made his home in Wilmington, Delaware in the United States, Poulle admitted that he has not been back to Jamaica for the past 25 years. Having reclaimed his roots, he vowed to try to visit at least once per year in the future.

However, he notes Wilmington's connection to Jamaica's most celebrated son, the late reggae icon Bob Marley. It was there that the young Marley lived with his mother and worked at a Chrysler automobile plant, which inspired him to pen the words to the song Night Shift which says in part "working on a night shift with a forklift". The city holds a festival in Marley's honour each year.

Poulle is thankful to the many persons who brought the omission of honour of his parents to public attention, including protocol consultant Merrick Needham and the Jamaica Observer. His message to all Jamaica at this time: "There's always hope; don't give up, because the right will always prevail."

Later, Mrs Lindo told the Observer via phone that she was delighted with the honour and was proudly wearing her medal while having dinner at home.

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