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August 13, 2012

By Basil Walters —–

Another call has been made for folklorist Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett-Coverley and reggae legend Bob Marley to be made national heroes.

The latest advocate is University of the West Indies (Mona) lecturer and musicologist, Dr Dennis Howard.

(L-R) MARLEY… credited with helping spread Jamaican music and the Rastafarian religion globally. MISS LOU… hailed as Jamaica’s first lady of folklore


In his address to the Origin of Jamaican Music at the Jamaica 50 Jubilee Village at the National Arena on August 3, Howard argued that it is time to acknowledge the role culture plays in defining Jamaican society.

He noted that the present list of National Heroes consists of politicians and freedom fighters. But he believes cultural icons such as Miss Lou and Marley deserve similar recognition.

“The way forward is to acknowledge our cultural heroes. And I want to see Bob Marley and the Honourable Louise Bennett being considered for National Heroes,” Howard said to applause. “Culture is what we are mainly known for. Culture is what is going to help us out of our economic stagnation. And so we must recognise the significance of culture to the Jamaican society.”

He addressed an audience that included Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, former Prime Ministers, Edward Seaga, P J Patterson and Andrew Holness as well as current and former ministers of education, Ronnie Thwaites and Maxine Henry-Wilson.

Holness spoke to the Jamaica Observer about Howard’s observations.

“My personal view is that the status of National Hero is one that has to be a national decision. I think it is now time to review who should get that status,” he said.

Hailed as Jamaica’s first lady of folklore, Miss Lou has received a number of national awards including the Order of Merit

the country’s third highest honour for her contribution to Jamaican culture.

She died in 2006 at age 86 in Toronto, Canada.

Marley, who died in May, 1981 at age 36, remains the most famous reggae performer. He is credited with helping spread Jamaican music and the Rastafarian religion globally.

He is also a recipient of the Order of Merit.



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