Jamaica bids farewell to Miss Lou

Internationally renowned cultural icon Louise Bennett-Coverley, simply known as `Miss Lou,’ was buried on August 9th at the National Heroes Circle in Kingston, after a state funeral attended by government officials, family members and thousands of Jamaicans eager to pay their last respects at the Coke Methodist Church in Kingston.

The two-storey church where Miss Lou and her family worshipped for several years is only a few blocks from the home in which she was born. Decorated in the green, yellow, and black colours of the Jamaican flag, the church could barely accommodate the thousands who turned out to bid Miss Lou goodbye. Miss Lou died on July 26 at the Scarborough Grace Hospital in Toronto, Canada, at age 86.

Among those who attended were Jamaica’s Governor-General Kenneth Hall, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, and two former prime ministers. Many of those paying respects outside waved Jamaican flags and recited poems written by Miss Lou.

Miss Lou career spans over five decades, and over the years developed a reputation as Jamaica’s premier cultural ambassador. She is known locally as the first Jamaican to authenticate the local dialect or patois (pronounced patwa), by using it on her radio and television programs that were extremely popular in the 1960s and ’70s with the young and old alike. She was also the first female black broadcaster on the BBC in England and recorded several albums, published several books and performed in numerous plays.

After the funeral her casket was then driven around the streets of Kingston which was lined with members of the general public who waved flags while expressing their love for the cultural icon.

Her husband died in 2002 and was buried in Toronto, his body was exhumed and buried alongside his wife of nearly 50 years in the National Heroes park.

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