Today marks the 101st birthday of Louise Bennett-Coverley, an icon of Jamaican culture and activism.
Bennett-Coverley, affectionately called “Miss Lou” was born on September 7, 1919 in Kingston, Jamaica.
Miss Lou, best known for her work as a poet, writer, comedienne and educator would go on to become a champion of Jamaican culture, particularly the country’s native patois.
But before that, she would get her start at St Simon’s College and Excelsior College, both in Kingston, before moving on to Friends College in Highgate, St Mary where she studied Jamaican folklore.
Miss Lou would later be the recipient of a British Council Scholarship which saw her relocation to London where she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
She would return to Jamaica where she taught drama to youth and adult groups in social welfare programmes at the University of the West Indies. Her passion for education and Jamaican culture also saw her lecturing on Jamaica folklore and music in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Through her stellar literary and performance contributions, she helped to make Jamaican patois accepted and respected.
Among her most popular works are Uriah Preach, No Lickle Twang, Mout-Amassi, Dutty Tough and Colonization in Reverse.
For her efforts, she was awarded the Order of Merit in 2001; Order of Jamaica in 1974; the Institute of Jamaica’s Silver and Gold medals for distinguished eminence in arts and culture, an honourary degree of Doctor of Letters from the UWI in 1983.
Miss Lou passed away at the Scarborough Grace Hospital in Toronto, Canada on July 26, 2006. She was 86.