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Two Jamaican Icons honored by South Florida community

MIAMI GARDENS – A large number of Jamaicans paid tribute to two Jamaican icons, Professor Mervyn Morris and Mrs. Norma Darby at a program of cultural performances in their honor at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Miami, yesterday (Oct. 29).

“A Celebration of two Jamaica Icons” as it was aptly titled brought out several artists performing song and dance and a selection of poetry reading to honor two outstanding Jamaicans “who have served their country large and well,” according to the Reverend Easton Lee, and cultural icon himself, who chaired the evening’s program. “They both represent the scholarship, passion and commitment to calling that we should all strive to emulate” Rev. Lee added.
Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, and

Mrs. Norma Darby, folklorist and Director of the Florida based Jamaica Folk Revue, were among the many Jamaicans recently bestowed with National Honors at Kings House, recently, at the National Heroes Ceremony. Professor Morris received the Order of Merit for distinguished contribution to the field of West Indian Literature, while Mrs. Darby received the Badge of Honor of Merit for service to Jamaica and its Diaspora in the field of cultural arts.

Jamaica’s Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths saluted the two honorees describing them as stalwarts of the literary and cultural arts of Jamaica “as their work bequeaths a legacy, tangibly in writing, benchmark performances and institution building for us to appreciate.”
Special tribute was paid to Mrs. Darby as she was serenaded by the Jamaica Folk Revue and the Tallawah Mento Band. The audience joined in the hand-clapping and rhythmic body swaying as the group performed a selection of folk songs and dance from their repertoire of Jamaican folk music.

Professor Mervyn Morris, O.J. (left) and Mrs. Norma Darby, folklorist (right) sharing the spotlight with the Jamaica Folk Revue at a Community Reception in their honor.

The group of nearly 20 choristers and percussionists, now celebrating 30 years, was founded by Mrs. Darby to preserve the Jamaica culture abroad through education and entertainment. Since its inception, the group has been making a significant contribution to South Florida’s cultural mix and continues to be the staple at almost every event showcasing the island’s rich culture and heritage.

Jamaican educator and author, Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley of Florida International University read a selection from her book titled “First Rain“ as she paid tribute to Professor Morris whom she described as her mentor. Similarly, Professor Geoffrey Philp of Miami Dade College read from his book “Twelve Poems and a Story for Christmas.”

Dub poet, Malachi Smith, brought the house down with three of his recitals namely – State of Emergency; Expiration; and Let Them Try.
Professor Morris surprised his audience with selections from his recent publication “I Have Been There, Sort Of”, a collection of all his literary works.

The evening performances closed with a final serenade and presentations to both honorees by the Jamaica Folk Revue. This was then followed by a Community Reception.

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