Columns

Statue for Miss Lou's people — Iconic order of importance

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, September 08, 2017

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HELLO, please! When last have you had the opportunity to use the words “icon” and “iconoclast” to show style? You mean, you are not ready to throw words around the place? You mean, you really haven't met an icon yet? How then are you going to join the conversation about the most remarkable lady who, in her time on this land, was the most understanding and caring for the development of this nation?

Who is she? The late, the very great, the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, who, while she was with us here on Earth, was one of the most remarkable Jamaican personalities.

Once again, the Miss Lou challenge has been brought alive again. Yesterday we celebrated the 98th anniversary of her birth. The faithful did not hesitate to rejoice in the memories which she has left for members of the family to think over. It is all of 11 years since she moved to a Higher Realm, but she has not been forgotten. The contribution of “Our Miss Lou” will go on forever.

In trying to bestow on her yet another honour recommendations speak of creating an official title of cultural icon to be bestowed on Miss Lou. Would that be enough, not only for her, but also for others who hold a special place in our psyche? Some ask, where is the love of the Jamaican people who have never hesitated to widely declare their deep respect and abiding love for Miss Lou and her beloved spouse, while they were here with us? There cannot be too much done to honour the memory of the venerable Louise Bennett-Coverley. She is indeed an iconic figure in the cultural history, not only in the land of her birth, but also those in areas of the globe where she was known and respected. Remember the years when she 'colonised England in reverse'? No one could top that.

We are still Miss Lou's people. The current issue of a statue in her honour is a story in itself. Word is that it has been commissioned by the members of a noted family who were great friends of Miss Lou and Eric Coverley. They were close neighbours but, in time, things changed. The Gambrills felt that there was history to be made, and there was source of remembrance, recalling the good times with Miss Lou, and the beautiful, well-loved neighbour for whom life had passed.

There has been extensive conversation about the issue of the statue. Where should it be placed? Some say Emancipation Park, where members of a younger generation could gather to learn new lessons and strengthen themselves.

A question is raised: What should we do to keep alive the cultural legacy with which Miss Lou has blessed us? Why not protect the lives of our nation's children now in need of care and guidance? Let us cease the murder of children. A nation which destroys a generation to come is a nation unworthy of itself. Let us not be casual in our response to the news heard with tragic regularity. Let us not tarnish the name and memory of a woman who, in her life, nurtured the children of this nation as she shared her time, talent and loving care for them.

In her time, Miss Lou would tell us, plain and clear, “Save young lives today.” She was so fond of young people that she would do anything to help them. Memories remain of the days of Miss Lou's Ring Ding, which celebrated the spirit of our children, giving them the chance to learn as well as to share their talents and skills. Today, in a world filled with violence, our children need to grow and flourish. Let us choose to make use of facilities which can help to give pride to the builders of a new tomorrow.

Thanks to the creative people who still seek to preserve the spirit of a Miss Lou and her contribution, among them photographer Dellmar Samuels, as well as businessman and commentator Kevin O'Brien Chang, officers of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission who work tirelessly to keep alive the spirit of the beloved mother figure of Miss Lou. Special mention to a hard-working member of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's staff Michael Nicholson, who is currently under the weather. Get well soon, brother!

Weather watch

Give thanks that, as a people, so far we have been spared from the vicious hurricanes which have been lashing several areas of this part of the world with violet winds and floods. To date we have kept out of harm's way. Let us not be complacent, though. How many are “leaving themselves careless”, as an old-timer would say? The battle is not yet over.

Say a word of prayer for our Caribbean neighbours, some of whom who have been suffering from a serious battering. Hurricane Irma had her way with Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, and St Martin. At the time of writing, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and areas of South Florida are now in her path. We pray all will be well.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

PULL QUOTE

What should we do keep alive the cultural legacy with which Miss Lou has blessed us? Why not protect the lives of our nation's children now in need of care and guidance? Let us cease the murder of children. A nation which destroys a generation to come is a nation unworthy of itself. Let us not be casual in our response to the news heard with tragic regularity. Let us not tarnish the name and memory of a woman who, in her life, nurtured the children of this nation as she shared her time, talent and loving care for them

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