PM Douglas Joins Tributes Accorded to Caribbean Icon Professor Rex Nettleford

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St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas joined with many in the region By paying a glowing tribute to the recently departed Jamaican academician, Professor Ralston ‘Rex’ Nettleford. The Caribbean scholar’s untimely passing at 76 years of age occurred at George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C. on Feb. 2, due to complications from a massive heart attack suffered on Jan. 27. As part of a written statement released on Jan. 5, Dr. Douglas extolled the legacy left By the cultural icon By positing: “Most important of all, however, were Rex Nettleford’s commitment to the pursuit of excellence in all that he did; his determination to help us see and understand and appreciate Caribbean history from our own perspective; and in the process, his having helped us to better understand not only who and what we are, but, just as importantly, who and what we can be. May the soul of this extraordinary human being rest in peace.” The prime minister further praised Professor Nettleford’s “rare and expansive intellect” and his understanding of the role that the arts played in the development of the human soul. Nettleford was known around the world as the co-founder of the National Dance Theater Company in Jamaica just after the country gained its independence from Britain in 1962. He headed the organization for nearly 50 years. Also noted in Dr. Douglas’ statement was the celebrated rise from a humble birth in colonial Jamaica to graduate school at Oxford University on the way to becoming a valued advisor to multilateral agencies such as the United Nations. The Jamaican government has announced an official burial to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Mona Campus in the University Chapel. It is estimated that upwards of 2,000 persons can be accommodated at the funeral. Planners have indicated that tents will be set up outside of the chapel to help handle the many guests expected to attend. The Jamaican House of Representatives is scheduled to hold a session of tribute on Feb. 16, which will feature panegyrics from former Prime Ministers Edward Seaga and P.J. Patterson, in addition to Sir Shridath Ramphal, former UWI Chancellor, and current Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne. Patterson was quoted as saying, in part, “Professor Nettleford was a unique soul with a brilliant mind and an unparalleled commitment to Jamaica and the Caribbean.” Joining in the encomiums, Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma called Nettleford “a true son of Jamaica and of the Caribbean region.” Remarking on a snippet of Professor Nettleford’s expressed sapience, Dr. Douglas said, “Indeed, a favorite saying of his was: ‘Disregarding one’s history is like driving a car without checking the rear-view mirror’ – a gem of wisdom that the entire Caribbean should forever take to heart.”

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