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A Tribute To Miss Lou

 
   
  Black Singles Online
Affectionately known to Jamaicans at home and abroad as Miss Lou, the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, O.M., O.J., M.B.E., Hon. D.Litt was born in Kingston, Jamaica on September 7, 1919. She was educated at Calabar Elementary School, St. Simon's College, Excelsior College and at Friends' College in Highgate, St. Mary. From 1945 to 1947, on a British Council Scholarship, she studied in London, England at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

In the 1950s, she was the Drama Officer for the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission. This position allowed her to travel all over the island and devote time to study Jamaican folklore and oral history, something she had begun to do in the early 1940s. During that period, she also lectured on drama and folklore for the Extra-Mural Department of the University College of the West Indies.

Miss Lou was instrumental in 'Jamaicanizing' the annual Little Theatre Movement pantomime (which began in the early 1940s as a pale imitation of English models). She wrote some of the scripts, and contributed to many others, and between 1943 and 1975 (whether she was abroad or not), Miss Lou was one of the focal personalities in this annual show.

Dubbed the 'First Lady of Jamaican Comedy', Miss Lou is general regarded as the pre-eminent Jamaican theatre personality of the 20th century.

Miss LouFrom 1966 to 1982, often three times a week, Miss Lou composed and delivered "Miss Lou's Views", a topical four-minute radio monologue. From 1970 until 1982, she hosted "Ring Ding", a weekly television show for children, in which children performed and were reminded of various elements in Jamaican folk culture.

Miss Lou's first book, "Jamaican Labrish", an anthology of poems, with notes and introduction by Rex Nettleford, was published in 1966 by Sangster's Book Stores, who were also publishers of her "Selected Poems" (1982) and Aunty Roachy Seh (1993). There are numerous other Miss Lou publications, including "Anancy and Miss Lou", a book of Anancy stories and also the book from which we have derived much of the biographical information (above) about her.

Miss Lou is probably the best known 'teller' of Anancy stories. While Anancy stories are common property, and have been retold for many years and passed down from generation to generation, there was always something about the way Miss Lou would re-tell an Anancy story. She always contributed a very distinctive personal flavour and excitement to it. Indeed, she helped us to realize that the proper telling of these stories is undoubtedly also an art. You can see a few of Miss Lou's Anancy stories right here in JamaicanJokes.Com's 'Anancy section'.

On July 26, 2006 Miss Lou died at the Scarborough Grace Hospital in Toronto, Canada, after collapsing at home earlier in the morning. She had migrated from Jamaica to Canada in the early 1980s, but was given an official funeral in Jamaica, and buried at National Heroes Park in the section reserved for cultural icons.

 


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