Thursday, April 24, 2003

Even her unparalleled cultural contributions pale in comparison to the unique esteem in which she is held by her countrymen. For Louise Bennett is undisputedly the most universally beloved figure this island has ever produced. Alexander Bustamante, Michael Manley and Bob Marley all have their detractors. But no Jamaican responds to Miss Lou's name with anything but unconditional admiration and love.

Now, because of ill-health, Miss Lou has, for the past decade or so, lived in Canada, far away from the land she still loves so passionately. She is almost 90 now, and with her husband of over 50 years having passed away last year, only the Lord knows how much longer she will be with us. And you can bet that on that sad day when death comes to her, as it must come to us all, there will be an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy and praise in the country. But surely we should lavish all the tributes on her while she can still appreciate them. Why wait till she is gone to let her know how much we all love and cherish her?

--Kevin O'Brien Chang, arguing (rather hyperbolically) in yesterday's Observer that the Jamaican government should lavish some meaningful attention on beloved dialect poet Louise Bennett while she's still around to appreciate it.

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