After a certain Jamaican female artist callously disrespected Miss Lou’s life’s work, there was an outpouring of love and support from the Jamaican populace. Through social media, it was clear from the voice of the people that Jamaicans hold the beloved Miss Lou in high regard. Recognizing her only as a Jamaican icon is simply not enough. It is time for our legislators to listen to the people and give Miss Lou the much-deserved honor. After all, don’t the people have a say in who should be awarded the highest honor of the land?
We emphatically agree with culture critics like Carolyn Cooper when it comes to Miss Lou. Few others have done more for Jamaican culture. So it only seems fair for her to be named a National Hero.
Her work truly let us believe that our culture is worth celebrating. She saw real beauty in our heritage and she spent her life encouraging us to recognize it as well. Her emersion of the essence of Jamaica in the arts allowed us to embrace our language and traditions and in turn we’ve also learned to respect and appreciate it. We must be thankful that Miss Lou, arguably the greatest Jamaican poet of all time, spent more than half a century celebrating Jamaican expression through her work as a writer and performer.
As we put forward her name to be considered, we ask: Who is a national hero anyway?
According to the Office of the Prime Minister, The Order of National Hero can be awarded to any citizen of Jamaican who has rendered a service to the country that is “of a most distinguished nature.” Funnily enough, that is the only criteria, and many people believe that that is much too vague.
Still, who could be more distinguished than someone who dedicated her life to advocating for us to embrace what is truly Jamaican? Through her work, Miss Lou helped to emancipate us from mental oppression. Our people spent centuries shackled to self-loathing because of the debilitating effects of British imperialism. She showed us how to set our minds free. At her insistence, we gave worth to our Jamaican customs, accepting aspects of our culture like ‘patwah’ as our own. By inspiring us to embrace what came from the people, she allowed us to overcome the hurdles aimed at crippling our cultural acceptance.
Perhaps our legislators would be more forthcoming had her contributions been political or economic or anything that seemed to tangibly help the country’s growth.
Many will argue that if this honor is given to Miss Lou we should also give it to other icons like Bob Marley or Usain Bolt. Well, we welcome that, too. Other Caribbean nations like Barbados and Antigua have awarded The Order of National Hero to outstanding sportsmen like Sir Garfield Sobers or Sir Viv Richards.
As a nation that is hooked on sports, we should do no less. Let’s think about that and why Miss Lou deserves the honour as we go about our business this Heroes’ Day weekend! Walk good!