Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jamaica loses a legend. Rest in Peace Rex Nettleford

One of Jamaica's greatest cultural icons, Rex Nettleford, passed away in Washington D.C. last night at the age of 76. He had suffered a heart attack last week. Jamaica has lost a legend. From the Jamaica Observer:

Last night, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who is in China on an official visit, expressed deep regret at Nettleford's passing.

"I am deeply saddened at the news, just received, of the passing of Professor Rex Nettleford," Golding said. "Jamaica and the entire world have lost an intellectual and creative genius, a man whose contribution to shaping and projecting the cultural landscape of the entire Caribbean region is unquestionable."

Added the prime minister: "Rex Nettleford was an international icon, a quintessential Caribbean man, the professor, writer, dancer, manager, orator, critic, and mentor. He has left a void in our world that will be a challenge to fill."

Nettleford, he said, "stamped his indelible mark in every chosen field of endeavour and his rich and lasting legacy should be preserved for those who must carry on his life's work -- the emancipation of the Caribbean colonial mind from mental slavery in its quest for identity".

Golding extended, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, condolences to Nettleford's family, the UWI community, the members of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), which Nettleford founded and led for almost 50 years, his colleagues and friends.

Ralston Milton 'Rex' Nettleford was born on February 3, 1933 in Falmouth, Trelawny.

He was a professor of Extra Mural Studies at the University of the West Indies and also headed the Trade Union Education Institution.

As a Rhodes Scholar, he studied at Oxford University and has authored a number of books, among them Mirror Mirror, Manley and the New Jamaica, The African Connexion, In Our Heritage, and Caribbean Cultural Identity: the case of Jamaica.

Nettleford was known as much for his involvement in the arts as his immeasurable contribution to academia.

For the entire life of the NDTC he was its driving force. Through his guidance and influence the group won international acclaim and is regarded as one of the best dance ensembles in the world.

He was cultural adviser to the prime minister, member of the Inter-American Committee on Culture, founding governor of the Canada-based International Development Research Centre, and had acted as expert/consultant to the government of Ghana, FESTAC, CARIFESTA and UNESCO.

He is the recipient of Jamaica's third highest honour, the Order of Merit, as well as the gold Musgrave Medal, the Pelican Award from the UWI Guild of Graduates, an honorary doctor of Humane letters from the University of Hartford and the Living Legend Award from the Atlantic Black Arts Festival.

No comments:

Post a Comment