CC, UWI jointly hail ‘King’ Rex Nettleford
Glowing tributes were paid to the life and work of the late Professor Ralston Milton (Rex) Nettleford when the Cornwall College Old Boys' Association and the University of the West Indies, Western Jamaica Campus recently honoured him in film, dance, music and word at the Cornwall College Chapel in Montego Bay.
Against the backdrop of the theme, Vida! (Life) An Evening of Excellence , the tribute featured the showing of a documentary film on the life and work of the late Professor, titled Long Live the King, which was written and directed by filmmaker Lennie Little White, himself an old boy of Cornwall College.
In his opening remarks, Dr Cecil Aird, the chairman of the Cornwall College school board, said Cornwall College was very proud of Professor Nettleford and his exemplary achievements, noting that the institution was elated to have produced such an illustrious son, who became an iconic figure in academia and culture.
Dr Luz Longsworth, director of the University of the West Indies, Western Jamaica Campus, said it was more than a pleasure to collaborate with the Cornwall College Old Boys' Association to host the tribute to Professor Nettleford.
"Professor Nettleford was someone who touched many lives, especially those of young academics. For me, he was a mentor and I always looked forward to his little notes of encouragement," said Longsworth.
Longsworth said while the late professor rose to prominence through academia, he remained true and humbled by his achievements.
"Professor Nettleford never ceased to tell me where he came from ... and at every event that honoured him, he was always clear - the little boy from Bunkers Hill (Trelawny), and Cornwall College, so it was a no brainer to me that the University in Montego Bay would have to have a strong partnership with Cornwall College," she explained.
Flautist Audrey Cooke paid tribute with a single piece from his wind instrument, while Tamara Noel, a dancer with the National Dance Theatre Company, which was founded by Professor Nettleford, gave a riveting performance of the song titled Our Father, which was done in South Africa at the liberation of Nelson Mandela.
Long Live the King encapsulated the life of Rex Nettleford and his achievements as told by friends and relatives, including former Prime Ministers Edward Seaga, P. J. Patterson, his personal assistant Eula Morgan, Lennie Little-White, Lester Woolery (friend from Cornwall College) and Veronica Slater of Caribbean Magazine.
The film spoke glowingly of Professor Nettleford's penchant for excellence, his love and devotion for his mother, and an unencumbered lifestyle, which earned him the accolade, the quintessential Caribbean man.