My heart aches as I write this blog. Our nation, the world has just lost one of our cultural icons. There will never be anyone close to match the Magnificent and extraordinary man Professor the Hon Rex Nettleford O.M. F.I.J.
Every time I was in the presence of this honorable man I felt like I needed to curtsey, talk a little softer, speak only when spoken to – treat him like royalty. I can honestly say Professor Nettleford is one of the very few people I have asked his permission if I can use his signature to analyze, out of due respect for his Honorable. It was a question I posed him when I caught up with him last year at a book signing in Kingston. He kindly agreed so with no further a due let’s find out what Made the Honorable Professor Netteford tick?
You know the old adage first impressions count – so I always go with the very first characteristic I saw in his script – Self reliance!! – The underscore under his name tells me so. The swiftness of the signature expresses a man who did not need all the facts. He grasped ideas and information quickly. Just tell him Who, Where, Why and When. A decision could be made quickly on this basis. No doubt a man of sheer fortitude. The hooks at the end of his letters such as the letter ‘g’ and the letter ‘B’ in Blessings, and the final hook in the letter f in his name and the hook in the letter ‘ t’ in my name – tells us he was tenacious – holding strong to his beliefs and ideals.
The vertical stroke of his handwriting shows he was ruled totally by his head and not his heart. A logical practical individual. The I dot close to the stem of the I in the word ‘Blessings’ demonstrates he had a good eye for detail and was an extremely loyal individual.
An analytical thinker who gathered the facts he could think quickly on his feet – a problem solver rather than a creator of problems. Sometimes his decision were made based on a gut feeling because he was extremely intuitive. An intuitive spirit also heightened his level of creativity.
The semi printed script demonstrates he was direct and to the point there was no hidden agenda with the Prof. What you see is what you get. Sincere and completely a man of integrity. Prof. Nettleford was a free spirit who was governed by his own set of standards and ethics.
Professor Nettleford will always be our Jamaican treasure who hailed from the soil of Falmouth. He was a Renaissance man. A Pioneer, an educator, innovator, author, political analyst and a former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, social cultural historian and Vice Chancellor Emeritus at the University of the West indies.
After taking an undergraduate degree in History at the UWI he pursued a post-graduate studies in Politics at oxford. He is also the founder and artistic director and principal choreographer of the internationally acclaimed National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica ( just celebrated its 46th anniversary) and is regarded as a leading Caribbean Authority in the performing Arts.
Beyond the shores of the Caribbean he has served on several international bodies with development and intercultural learning. He was a founding governor of the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and International Trustee of the AFS Intercultural based in the USA and former Chairman of the Commonwealth Arts Organization.
He was a director of the London-based News concern and a former member of the Executive Board of UNESCO. He served as one of the Group of Experts monitoring the Implementation of Sanctions and other Actions against Apartheid and as member of the West Indian Commission. He was a member of the Casts and Fort Trust Fund – Ghana. – to name just a few of the many hats he wore.
This blog cannot really give us the full profile of such an accomplished man. I will list just a few of his awards. He received the national honor of Order of Merit in 1975, the gold Musgrave medal from the Institute of Jamaica and the Living Legend Award from the Black Arts Festival in Atlanta. In 1994 he received the Zora Neal Hurston-Paul Robeson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement from the National Counsel for Black Studies. He received D.Litt from St John’s University – USA DCL, Oxford University (UK The Presidential Medal – Brooklyn College The University of Canada LLd, to name just a few.
He slipped away 4 hours from his 76th Birthday. May he continue to dance, sing and inspire us from above.