Many Jamaicans love Louise Bennett-Coverley, from the very young to the young-at-heart.
But for some, especially for the younger generations, asking them just what about the titular poetess and cultural icon they love, and some are a little lost for words.
Fontana Pharmacy is stepping in to fill that void in 2019, as Jamaica celebrates 100 days of ‘Miss Lou’ across the country, with its informative storyboard.
Director of Fontana Pharmacy, Kevin O’Brien Chang, in an interview with BUZZ, calls the initiative timely as the 100 days of Miss Lou celebrations continue.
“Well the reality is everybody loves Miss Lou in Jamaica, but a lot of people don’t know why they love her, especially young people. You can’t blame them, Ring Ding ended in 1980 and time flies; there hasn’t been much education for the youth about Miss Lou,” he began.
“There’s a wonderful statue up at Miss Lou Square but if you go there, you won’t see anything [there] about Miss Lou. So, if you’re thinking, a little girl goes to her parent, ‘Daddy, who is Miss Lou?’. But they need deeper knowledge than, ‘Oh, she wrote some poems and made us laugh.’,” O’Brien Chang told BUZZ.
“She’s the mother of Jamaican culture, so we need to educate people. We are the world’s smallest, youngest cultural superpower, known everywhere – there’s no parallel in today’s world,” he explained further.
‘Miss Lou gave a nation self-identity’
“Miss Lou taught us to be confident in who we are. Before Miss Lou, we had a pseudo-British culture, we imitated them; we didn’t speak like ourselves, we were afraid to. She made us confidently speak like ourselves, [about] how we feel, in our own language,” O’Brien Chang told BUZZ.
“That’s a massive thing to give a nation self-confidence, [Miss Lou] transformed our self-identity and it wasn’t always like that,” the Fontana Chairman continued.
“I see the gap; I see that young people love her but don’t know why the do, and so I said for [Miss Lou’s] 100th birthday, let us try and educate the young people about the fullness of Miss Lou,” he asserted.
“She’s not just a funny lady who wrote poems. She was a fighter for racial identity,” O’Brien Chang told BUZZ, adding that Miss Lou is arguably the greatest single contributor to Jamaican culture.
To this end, Fontana Pharmacy in partnership with the Ministry of Culture is distributing the Miss Lou storyboard to over 1,700 to every school across Jamaica.
The national network of libraries, ministries, as well as embassies and other consulates, are also included in the island-wide roll-out of the Miss Lou storyboards.
O’Brien Chang told BUZZ that the storyboards can also be downloaded for free on the Fontana Pharmacy’s website.