Photo: Courtesy The Gleaner
Aunty Roachy, Boonoonoonoos,
walk good, the infectious voice, the laughter, the use of Jamaican Talk,
Ring Ding, Miss Lou and Mass Ran, the tie head, the bandana skirt. These are some of the things that come to
mind when one thinks of The Hon. Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley, O.J. the Jamaican
Cultural icon who passed away in Canada, on Wednesday, July 26, 2006.
Miss Lou as she was
affectionately called, lived in Canada for over twenty years, all the while
maintaining her cultural connection to Jamaica through her folkloric
Jamaican poems and expressions. She entertained her audiences with
these poems, often bringing tears of laughter to those who were able to see
her perform. I was lucky to see her at Columbia University in 1985, when she performed with Mutabaruka (someone who credits Miss Lou
for his foray into dub poetry and the use of the Jamaican language in his
every day life).
Miss Lou left a legacy
that will be hard to fill because some people are still not comfortable with
being themselves. Afraid to express the cultural attributes that make
them Jamaican. Miss Lou made it possible for Jamaicans to open their
mouths and speak without the fear of people thinking they were not
educated. Jamaican Talk, Patois, was not considered proper speaking,
(even today,) although the majority of the Jamaican population spoke that
way. When Miss Lou opened her mouth and the Patois came out people
were outraged that she would dare to speak like that in public.
To her credit Miss Lou
was prominent in Pantomime that occurred during the Christmas season.
Along with Mr. Ranny Williams they were a dynamic duo of skits and poems. Miss Lou was an all time favorite when she hosted the popular
television show, Ring Ding. A variety show that entertained children
while teaching them about their Jamaican heritage and their connection,
through the language, to the African continent. Her book of poetry,
"Labrish," Jamaican for talking or gossiping, is a must have for
those who want to read her poetic side.
Mi Deh Yah Now!