MIAMI – Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths shared a message of condolence with the Diasporic community, friends of Jamaica and members of the cultural arts community, on the passing of Professor, the Hon. Rex Nettleford, OM, who died yesterday (Feb. 2) in Washington, D.C. after a recent illness.
Describing him as a brilliant cultural lion and iconic Caribbean cultural resource, the Consul General said “we share in the grief and shock experienced by the entire Jamaican family and particularly those community members here in Florida and the Southern United States who were directly touched by the contribution and reach of Professor Nettleford, in as many fields as he cared to touch.”
In a letter of condolence to the Diasporic community, Mrs. Griffiths also spoke of his multiple achievements in historic and contemporary leadership and his capacity to inspire and promote a renaissance of spirit, “and by his own example demonstrate the prospect of just reward for exemplary work,” she said.
The Consul General remarked on his scholarly wisdom in the creative and literary arts vanguard, the Diasporic Movement and the shaping of socio-political policy.
Prof. Nettleford’s involvement with the South Florida Diaspora was far-reaching. Sydney Roberts, Director of the Jamaica Awareness, Incorporated, a South Florida cultural organization, described Professor Nettleford as his mentor and friend. “His contribution was invaluable as he touched so many facets of life in the Caribbean and beyond – arts, education among others.”
In expressing her loss to the Jamaican community, Mrs. Jan Goodheart, Vice President at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) recalled his exuberance and energy when Professor Nettleford announced the National Dance Theatre Company at the first performance of the troupe in the Spring of 2007.
Director of Outreach Services, Broward County Library Division, Mrs. Tanya Simons-Oparah described him as an outstanding diplomat, an international icon who left an indelible mark in his many visits to the South Florida community. She also recalled a special visit to the Broward Main Library by Professor Nettleford, during that Library’s celebration in February 2002, honoring the contribution of the Jamaican Diaspora to the development of the South Florida diverse community. The celebration was part of Black History Month activities by the Broward County Library Services.
The late Professor Emeritus, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (left) and Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott (right) pose with Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths (center) as both legends were honored at the Caribbean American Heritage Commemorative Gala last June during Caribbean American Heritage Month at the Miramar Cultural Center.
Last June, Professor Nettleford shared the stage with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott when both scholars were honored for their contributions to the development of the Caribbean Region’s cultural heritage across the Diaspora. The event was the first annual Caribbean American Heritage Commemorative Gala held at the Miramar Cultural Center as part of the Caribbean American Heritage Month celebrations here in the USA.
Marlon Hill, Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board member to the Southern USA, paying tribute to Professor Nettleford, described him as the caretaker of our cultural legacy. “He inspired us to be proud of the strength and resilience of our heritage. Our Diaspora movement is founded on many of the principles of his teachings and his artistic expressions. It is now our turn to take the stage or run with the baton,” as he reminisced of the Professor’s last visit to South Florida at the first Regional Jamaica Diaspora Conference in Fort Lauderdale, last October.