Happy to celebrate Miss Lou

February 11, 2016
Louise 'Miss Lou' Bennett Coverley

Listen nuh, I'm feeling really, really good right now. Yeah, man, when I say feel good, I mean I'm feeling like I'm a happy jockey, and fulfilment is di horse mi a ride.

It's like this abundance of good vibes and niceness out fi get mi cloyed. Trust me, peeps. If I ever get any sweeter than how I am feeling right now ants might conspire fi kidnap mi.

What mi sweet mi so? I'm still ruminating on the residual effects of the boonoonoonoos time I had over the past weekend when I had the pleasure and honour of sharing vibes and views and adding energy to the ninth annual Louise Bennett-Coverley Reading Festival in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

The festival is the result of a great collaborative effort by the Friends of the South Regional Broward Library, Jamaican Folk Revue, Inc., Broward College, and the Excelsior Alumni Association Florida Chapter. They should feel proud. The event was a smashing success. Yeah, man, admission was free, but di ting sell off!

It was presented under the patronage of the Consul General of Jamaica, the Hon Franz Hall, and forms part of the library's schedule of activities for Black History Month.

Now an anxiously anticipated calendar event, the annual festival was first mounted in 2007 to celebrate the life and legacy of our beloved 'Miss Lou' - the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, OJ - cultural icon, social commentator and internationally acclaimed folklorist.

The entertaining and uplifting engagement which continues to grow in popularity, also goes beyond merely celebrating and showcasing our rich and diverse cultural expressions, as the organisers have, over the years, also awarded 14 scholarships in Miss Lou's name to students at both the Edna Manley College in Jamaica and South Florida's Broward College.

A sterling testament to the immense influence that Miss Lou's works have had on Jamaicans back a yard and all over abroad, the event attracts a full house every year.

They never leave disappointed according to what I hear. It was no exception this year. The nostalgia-filled entertainment package included the timeless Tallawah Mento Band, Dr Sue and the Sierra Norwood Calvary Children, theatre stalwart Easton Lee, the Jamaican Folk Revue and NDTC's Jordan-Leigh Wyatt, who presented a riveting tribute in dance to the late Bob Marley.

I had the extra special privilege of attending as a special guest, and sharing a presentation entitled 'Lyrics, Laughter & Lessons - Jamaican Comedy and The Miss Lou Legacy'. That's just a fancy title yah. I had just as much or maybe more fun than the attendees sharing jokes, stories and reflections with a warm, willing and wonderful gathering of loving people. The hardest part was staying within my given 30-minute limit.

As I said in a post on my Facebook page a day ago, there were so many high points. These include the earnest, loving welcome and top-class hospitality by my hosts who treated me like royalty.

There were the many, many friendly and familiar faces in the audience that gave me a standing ovation and took mi to the edge of eye water. I saw folks I had not seen for donkey's years like Maxine Plummer, Lukee Chong and Malachi Smith, and schoolmates I had not seen I left high school more than donkey-grandfather years ago. Yeah, man! Mi glad and grateful.

I'm especially thankful to Norma Darby - the powerhouse behind the Jamaica Folk Revue and Althea Brown-Robinson, president of the Excelsior Alumni Association, who pulled out all the stops to ensure I was well taken care of.

Mrs Darby is a wonderful example of dedication to and affection for Jamaican culture. And Althea, my dynamic XLCR class of 1977 sister, truly exemplifies the 'Age Animo' [do it with thy might] spirit of the beloved alma mater that we're proud to share with the great Miss Lou.

Yeah, friends. Mi heart light like a kite an' mi head a swell like a helium-filled balloon. I'm heading back that side in the near future for a longer set in aid of Excelsior and I'm already over the moon. Hopefully by or before June, but it can never be too soon.


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