Happy Miss Lou Day
Dis long time gal mi neva si yu, come mek mi hold yu han. Dis long time gal mi neva si yu, come mek mi hol yu han. Peel head Johncrow siddung pon tree top pick off di blossom, mek mi hol yu han gal, mek mi hol yu han....Lawks!
Whenever I hear lyrics like those, I remember Miss Lou. And when I remember Miss Lou, I smile with joy and beam with pride. How about you?
Look here nuh, I think today, the 97th anniversary of her birth, should be a big, loud, celebratory public holiday inna Jamaica.
Yeah man, wha yu say? Me tink wi shoulda did have dah day yah officially designated as Louise Bennett Day - a colourful national holiday devoted to celebrating our dynamic Jamaican language and literature, and honouring the Right Hon Dr. Louise Bennett-Coverly OJ, OM, MBE, the pioneering woman who was initially vilified and then eventually valorized for her artful validation of our mother tongue.
This should be a day where we dedicate considerable time and resources to memorializing this revolutionary Jamaican artist and activist; a writer, broadcaster, actress, folklorist and educator whose legacy of laughter and lessons continues to stir, inform and inspire generations of academics, linguists and performing artists.
Drums should be rumbling and rhumba boxes vibrating. Banjos should be banging and the whole nation celebrating.
On a day like today we should be wishing each other 'happy Miss Lou Day', singing folk songs together and sharing Anansi stories. Yeah man, we should be spreading good old time love and cheer and reminding each other that 'howdy and tenky nuh bruk nuh square' don't it? Yes mi dear!
And all around the nation, radio stations should be in competition to see who can allocate the most time to airing some of the several available live and studio recordings of performances and interviews with this inimitable icon. Jamaican radio should be dedicating most of today to playing selections from the daughter of the soil who was the first black woman ever to host her own radio show on BBC in London.
In fact, I think every year on September 7 everybody inna Jamaica shoulda communicate using rhyme and riddim and converse inna proverbs, parables and riddle. And whether dem is parliamentarian, teacher, preacher, weather forecaster or radio and TV announcer, pon dah day yah everybody shoulda talk inna patwa! What you tink?
Mi tenk God fi Miss Lou. Mi tenk God mi old enough fi remember actually listening to 'Miss Lou's Views' pon daytime radio back in di days and watching her host Ring Ding on TV.
Yeah, I'm especially happy and proud that while still a shy and star-struck student at Trench Town primary school, I was lucky enough to be one of the many children who got the opportunity to experience the magnetic magic of her presence as a participant on her ground breaking children's show. And I'm glad that I got to learn at her feet in some master classes she conducted when I was a theatre student.
Kudos to the folks at Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) who continue to fly Miss Lou's banner. They're marking the day today with an Internet event dubbed 'Saluting Miss Lou: Aunty Roachy Online Party' where the public can share video tributes and renditions on their favourite Miss Lou pieces.
I think we can go much further though, in ensuring that we maintain Miss Lou's legacy and give more meaning to her pioneering work in language and culture. I also think nuff pickney woulda learn everything [including and especially English] easier if we use patwa inna di classroom. Wha you say? Yeah or nay? While you think 'bout it, I'll just say 'Happy Louise Bennett Day!'