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The passing of Professor Rex Nettleford


Permalink 07:49:21 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Education, Culture, Commentary, News

The passing of Professor Rex Nettleford

3 days ago on February 2, 2010 Jamaica lost an icon in Professor Ralston Milton "Rex" Nettleford. Rex Nettleford's death sparked much mourning from the Jamaican community. Rex's importance to Jamaica cannot simply be measured by any regular standard simply because he has traversed nearly all aspects of Jamaican life: Cultural, Educational, Financial, Historical... quite frankly if you can add -al to a word he probably has had some say in it, so much so that it is almost certain he will probably be given even more national honours and awards after his death.

Rex Nettleford

To give a small history on Rex as a person, he was born in Trelawny, Jamaica (A child of the west), graduating from one of western Jamaica's premier high schools, Cornwall College he then pursued a degree in History at the University of the West Indies. Continuing his studies after being awarded the Rhodes Scholarship to Oriel College, Oxford, England, where he studied Politics. It was after he had finished his postgraduate degree that he began to have a deep impact on Jamaica however.

Having returned he co-authored a book titled "the Rastafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica" with M.G. Smith and Roy Augier, a book which was essentially one of the first major studies done on the rastafarian movement and one which has been cited numerous times for its rich content. Rex's next step was in setting up the National Dance and Theatre Company (NDTC) in 1963, a dance troupe that doesn't only focus on ballet style dances but one which tries to encompass as many Jamaican dance forms in its performances. If you have ever watched the NDTC perform you will be sure to see things like Kumina, Dinki Mini, Bruckings, and other traditional dances (including other caribbean and african dances) in their performances, truly a spectacle to see. In an interview three years ago he stated that "The underlying thing was using dance to explain to ourselves and the world who we are, and to celebrate the African presence in the shaping of a Jamaican/Caribbean ethos".

He was also a celebrated professor at the University of the West Indies and rose to the post of Vice Chancellor of the institution and while there he continued to juggle his duty as vice-chancellor, while still leading the NDTC (at times even performing with them), while also acting as artistic director of the University Singers, while also lecturing at the University of the West Indies. This was truly a man who had various things on his plate but somehow managed to fulfill his duties successfully. He even has a hall named after him on the University of the West Indies mona campus.

I could continue to write about what things he has done but to truly gain an understanding of his work one should also look at what others have said about his impacts:

Bruce Golding - "Jamaica and the entire world have lost an intellectual and creative genius, a man whose contribution to shaping and projecting the cultural landscape of the entire Caribbean region is unquestionable... Rex Nettleford was an international icon, a quintessential Caribbean man, the professor, writer, dancer, manager, orator, critic and mentor. He has left a void in our world that will be a challenge to fill."

Edward Seaga - "There was a strong willingness on his part to absorb Jamaican culture, which I believe is his greatest contribution. It's on that basis that the NDTC became such a force"

P. J. Patterson - " Professor Nettleford was a unique soul with a brilliant mind and an unparalleled commitment to Jamaica and the Caribbean."

Jamaica has truly lost a hardworking and influencial son of the soil. May he rest in Peace.

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Three Ministers

Three ministers - a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Southern Baptist and their wives were all on a cruise together. A tidal wave came up and swamped the ship, and they all drowned. The next thing you know, they're standing before St.Peter.

As fate would have it, the first in line was the Presbyterian and his wife. St. Peter shook his head sadly and said, "I can't let you in. You were moral and upright, but you loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny."

St.Peter waved sadly, and poof! Down the chute to the 'Other Place' they went. Then came the Methodist. "Sorry, can't let you in either," said Saint Peter "You abstained from liquor and dancing and cards, but you loved food too much.

You loved food so much, you even married a woman named Candy!" Sadly, St. Peter waved again, and whang! Down the chute went the Methodists.

The Southern Baptist turned to his wife and whispered nervously, "It ain't looking good, Fanny."


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