Professor Ralston Milton Nettleford, better known as Rex Nettleford, one of Jamaica’s most famous scholars and cultural icons, passed a week ago on Feb. 2, 2010, in Washington, D.C. He collapsed in his hotel room a few days before, while visiting the U.S. to raise funds for the University of the West Indies, where he acted as Vice-Chancellor Emeritus. During his 76 years with us, Professor Nettleford lived a full life as a Jamaican intellectual, social critic, and choreographer. It is difficult to list this Rhodes Scholar’s numerous achievements, however some include his authoring of books such as the seminal study on the Rastafari movement in 1961 (which he co-authored with M.G. Smith and Roy Augier), “Manley and the New Jamaica” with Norman Manley in 1971, his collection of essays titled “Mirror Mirror,” and his book “Caribbean Cultural Identity: The Case of Jamaica.” Nettleford was an artistic director of the University Singers at the UWI Mona campus for over twenty years, founded the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica in 1963, and acted as a chairman on the Council of the Institute of Jamaica. To get more information on Professor Nettleford’s many achievements see:
www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/This Is Jamaica/nettleford.html
Through his work as a mentor, teacher, university administrator, artist, and cultural ambassador, Professor Nettleford touched the lives of many, including members of the Caribbean Studies Association across generations, geographic areas, and disciplines. CSA member Honor Ford-Smith shares her experiences with Nettleford and the impact he had on her life in her tribute titled, “In Memoriam: Rex Nettleford 1933-2010,” which you can read on the CSA website at www.caribbeanstudiesassociation.org.
We open up the comments section as a space for CSA members to share their experiences with Professor Nettleford, and to talk about the profound impact his academic and artistic pursuits had on their research in the Caribbean and their lives.
Contributed by Bianca C. Williams