The Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE, Dip RADA, D. Litt (Hon), FIOJ. (September 7, 1919 – July 26, 2006)
Hundreds of Jamaicans braved the heavy downpour at the National Heroes Park in Kingston on Wednesday, August 9, to say farewell to the late Jamaican cultural icon, Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately called ‘Miss Lou’.
Led by eight policemen, mounted on horses, the hearse arrived in the park to thunderous applause from members of the public. Eight male pall bearers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JDF) took the flag-draped casket from the hearse and proceeded to the vault where she was buried.
Jocelyn Smith, a member of the public who was present at the burial site, told JIS News that Miss Lou had a very strong impact on her life.
“I used to watch ‘Ring Ding’ a lot on television with Miss Lou and I used to enjoy it as a child. I always wanted to finish doing everything, just to sit down and watch ‘Ring Ding’,” Miss Smith said.
“She had a very big impact on my life, because she taught me to become a more outspoken person,” she added.
Miss Lou, who was born in Kingston on September 7, 1919, died in Toronto, Canada on July 26.
She was given an official funeral service at the Coke Methodist Church in downtown Kingston.
The world renowned folklorist, poet, actress and political and social commentator is regarded as the mother of Jamaican culture.
“Miss Lou is a national treasure and she has always brought happiness to people’s lives and that is the most important thing. She is a grandmother for everybody and a mother for every Jamaican and probably internationally too,” said Tony Brown, another member of the public.
Mrs. Bennett-Coverley last visited the island in 2003, when she was the special guest of the government for Emancipation and Independence celebrations.
Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, told JIS News that the death of Miss Lou has mobilised more people into recognizing the importance of the Jamaican culture.
“If you look around at all of the activities we have had, and all of the young people who have come out, a whole new generation is discovering Miss Lou and what she did for us and our language. Her death has really galvanised more interest in the culture of Jamaica,” the Minister said.
Miss Lou worked with the Little Theatre Movement (LTM) in the staging of the National Pantomime over several decades. She appeared in several leading roles in many of the Pantomime productions. Her first appearance in an LTM national Pantomime was in the role of ‘Big Sambo Gal’ in the play entitled ‘Soliday and the Wicked Bird’.
Mrs. Bennett-Coverley was buried beside her late husband, Eric Coverley, whose remains were re-interred in National Heroes Park on Sunday, August 6.