Tania Hernandez takes every opportunity she can to celebrate Jamaican culture and its muse, Louise Bennett-Coverley. Doing it at Louise Bennett Square in Gordon Town, St. Andrew, during the forthcoming inaugural festival in honor of Miss Lou is a high point of her creativity. She will travel from Hamilton, Ontario to perform in Miss Lou’s hometown, paying tribute by reciting one of her monologues and singing a song she wrote especially for her.
Like Opal Palmer Adisa and the small team working to make the October 15 event a reality, Hernandez believes Miss Lou is the mother of Jamaican culture and worthy of a festival in her homeland.
“Mi luv Miss Lou pure and simple. I am an avid student and passionate about the works of Miss Lou. I want to be among my own to celebrate our mother of Jamaican culture and international icon who laid the foundation for our culture and our mother tongue, patois, are recognized and respected at home and abroad,” said Hernandez.
Adisa, teacher, author, poet and anthology editor, 100+ Voices for Miss Lou: Poetry, Tributes, Interviews, Essayssaid Miss Lou is too important not to have a local festival, especially when Florida and a few other places have festivals about her.
“For us, it was important to not only celebrate Miss Lou, but to celebrate some of the things that were meaningful and precious to her,” said Adisa who noted that the culture icon had left behind great work as a ethnographer, folklorist. , playwright and songwriter.
“I thought it was time for us in Jamaica to honor her and hold a festival for her. And also after doing the 100+ Voices for Miss Lou, I wanted to continue to promote Miss Lou not in the very framed way that I think she was seen in like this comic. Even the way people do her poems, I think it’s very flat and one-dimensional, which is why on the cover of the book I have her as a warrior with a pen. And doing the festival is also about promoting a much more multifaceted and nuanced image of Miss Lou that isn’t just the rambunctious comedic laughter, because behind that I think there was a very serious visionary and strategist.
Lack of funding meant the festival was curtailed, but that didn’t dampen the commitment of its five-member team and the Gordon Town Association.
Hernandez, whose nickname is Miss Tania Lou, said she too felt deeply that she needed to financially support the festival to keep Miss Lou’s memories and works alive.
“Our Jamaican proverb says, ‘A basket full of cocoa’. So I thought if I asked others to join me, and set up our ‘one, one cocoa’, the basket would be filled. Mek sense, don’t you.
So far, the African Canadian Caribbean Association, Lyn’s Linstead Market, the Hamilton Caribbean Women’s Group and individuals have donated a total of US$714.
The outdoor festival will feature storytelling, poetry, dance, Merritones (music), a children’s area, arts and crafts, and souvenir T-shirts and mugs that will be sold as raising funds to promote education, especially Louise Bennett Elementary School, a drama student at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, and students working on their Caribbean High School Certificate in Drama .
Hernandez’s participation was endorsed by two key leaders in the Canadian Jamaican community. Fabian Coverley, co-executor of Miss Lou’s Estate, said: ‘Tania has demonstrated over many, many years that she is dedicated to the character of Miss Lou and what she represents to the people of Jamaica and the world. There were many who jumped on the bandwagon that Miss Lou led. However, few people stayed true to the course that Miss Tania Lou demonstrated.
Dr Pamela Appelt, co-executor of the estate, said the fact that this event is taking place during the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence speaks volumes.
“I am grateful to Professor Opal Palmer Adisa for giving Miss Tania the opportunity to showcase her talents as she joins the other performers in keeping Miss Lou’s memory alive. Canada will be well represented by its presence and participation.