Tue | May 3, 2016

Olive Lewin: Mission accomplished!

Published:Sunday | April 28, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Pall-bearers prepare to take the coffin of Olive Lewin from the University Chapel at the University of the West Indies, Mona, yesterday.-PHOTOS BY Gladstone Taylor/Photographer
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (left) greets Johanna Lewin, daughter of the late Dr Olive Lewin, at the thanksgiving service for the life of the icon yesterday. Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna (second left) and Gillian Belnavis (right) look on.

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Sunday Gleaner Writer

The folk songs rang out and the cultural energy surged as family, friends, dignitaries and well-wishers gathered to celebrate the life of musicologist and social anthropologist, the late Dr Olive Lewin.

The thanksgiving service for the woman who has impacted the lives of so many was held yesterday at the University Chapel in St Andrew.

Chanting songs such as Wrong Train and Daniel Saw the Stone members of the audience danced and sang as they reflected on Lewin's work.

This cultural legacy was further highlighted by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga who wept uncontrollably during his tribute, remembering the folklorist as a missionary, visionary and woman of grace.

"Olive Lewin never hesitated to extend her musical training and knowledge, particularly to children. She established the Jamaican Orchestra for Youth, a moderate size of youngsters whom she taught," he recalled

"The least known area of the work of Olive Lewin was her social work among children of the poor. As a woman of grace, she placed abandoned infants and found homes for their upbringing," he said.

Likewise, Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna saw Lewin's work as a cultural platform through which persons could overcome the odds they faced in their daily lives.

"Because of Olive Lewin, our people are better able to reach out to each other and say, 'Come mek mi hol' yuh han'; because of Olive Lewin, we learnt to remember the art of masquerade that helped us through hard times when we use to 'Carry wi ackee go a Linstead market' … ," Hanna declared.

She added: "In all her work, whether through the Jamaican Folk Singers (the group she founded), to her many lectures and talks across the country, we were given a vision of ourselves that has helped us to shape our mission of building the country," she said.