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Louise Bennett-Coverley: Wikis

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Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE (September 7, 1919, Kingston, Jamaica –July 26, 2006) was a celebrated and much-loved Jamaican folklorist, writer, and artiste. "Miss Lou", as she was affectionately known, received her education from Ebenezer and Calabar Elementary Schools, St. Simon’s College, Excelsior College, Friends College (Highgate, St Mary).

She was a resident artiste from 1945 to 1946 with the “Caribbean Carnival”. She appeared in leading humorous roles in several Jamaican Pantomimes and television shows. She traveled throughout the World promoting the culture of Jamaica by lecturing and performing. Although her popularity was International, she enjoyed a celebrity status in her native Jamaica, Canada and the United Kingdom. Her Poetry has been published several times, most notably Jamaica Labrish-1966, Anancy and Miss Lou-1979.

Among her many recordings are: Jamaica Singing Games - 1953, Jamaican Folk Songs (Folkways Records, 1954), Children's Jamaican Songs and Games (Folkways, 1957) Miss Lou’s Views - 1967, Listen to Louise - 1968, Carifesta Ring Ding - 1976, The Honorable Miss Lou - 1981, Miss Lou Live-London - 1983 and Yes M' Dear -Island Records. She was married to Eric Winston Coverley on May 30, 1954 and has 1 adopted son Fabian Coverley.

In 1974, she was appointed to the Order of Jamaica. On Jamaica’s Independence Day 2001, the Honorable Mrs. Louise Bennett-Coverley was appointed as a Member of the Jamaican Order of Merit for her invaluable and distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture. She wrote her poems in the language of the people known as Jamaican Patois or Creole, and helped to put this language on the map and to have it recognised as a language in its own right, thus influencing many poets to do similar things.

In 1986, she appeared as Portia in the comedy film Club Paradise, starring Robin Williams, Jimmy Cliff and Peter O'Toole.

She died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 26, 2006.

Contents

"Colonization in Reverse" (1966)

"Wat a joyful news, Miss Mattie, I feel like me heart gwine burs Jamaica people colonizin Englan in reverse.


By de hundred, by de tousan From country and from town, By de ship-load, by de plane-load Jamaica is Englan boun.


Dem a pour out a Jamaica Everybody future plan Is fe get a big-time job An settle in de mother lan.


What a islan! What a people! Man an woman, old an young Jus a pack dem bag an baggage An tun history upside dung!


Some people doan like travel But fe show dem loyalty Dem all a open up cheap-fare- To-Englan agency.


An week by week dem shippin off Dem countryman like fire, Fe immigrate an populate De seat a de Empire.


Oonoo see how life is funny, Oonoo see de tunabout? Jamaica live fe box bread Out a English people mout'.


For wen dem ketch a Englan, An start play dem different role, Some will settle down to work An some will settle fe de dole.


Jane say de dole is not too bad Because dey payin she Two pounds a week fe seek a job Dat suit her dignity.


Me say Jane will never fine work At de rate how she dah look, For all day she stay pon Aunt Fan couch An read love-story book.


Wat a devilment a Englan! Dem face war an brave de worse, But me wonderin how dem gwine stan Colonizin in reverse."

Cultural Significance

Louise Bennett's poem, “Colonization in Reverse” (1966), provides a historical context for many minorities living in the UK in post-colonial time. Her portrayal of the Jamaican experience of dislocation and racial inequality parallels that of South Asian people living in London. Additionally, in both cases issues of cultural specificity and identity are salient. Both Jamaican and South Asian people shared a similar experience in their move to England for employment and a better life while also implying the complexities of assimilation and dual identity. Bennett pinpoints her concept of cultural disloyalty when she writes about Jamaicans on their quest for better job opportunities: “Dem a pour out a Jamaica/ Everybody future plan/ Is to get a big-time job/ An settle in de mother lan.” [1] Her reference to the “mother lan” here has an irony to it in that she is applying that England is the new mother land as opposed to Jamaica. By her referencing to England in this way it implies that her fellow Jamaicans are assimilating to England’s culture and leaving behind Jamaica, or the “mother lan.” A similar notion of assimilation is expressed by the South Asian hip hop group Hustlers HC through the lyrics in their song “Big Trouble in Little Asia”. Similar to Bennett, they combat the idea of colonization; only their music references it through the lens of India’s relation to Britain. They express the variety of oppressions experienced in Britain, yet refer to Britain as a land of opportunity. Additionally, they reveal the struggles of mindless “bum jobs” just as Bennett does. Throughout their music, Hustler HC struggle with their cultural history of oppression: “colonial displacement, capitalist work relations and racial oppression” (Sharma 46). [2] These struggles are shared by Jamaicans due to the similarities in their experience of colonization. Moreover, South Asian and Jamaican music aesthetic merged in many music scenes in the UK. In essence, Jamaicans and South Asians in London both struggled in similar ways to claim a culture and identity—music formed as a tool to achieve this.

References

  1. ^ Bennett, Louise. “Colonization in Reverse.” 1966
  2. ^ Sharma, Sanjay. "Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'?" in Dis-Orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, ed. London: Zed Books, 1996.
  • Jamaican Performing & Recording Artists (www.jamaicans.com)

External links

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