Launch Of The Rex Nettleford Foundation

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Launch Of The Rex Nettleford Foundation

Gold Room, Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre
Friday, September 17, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Mr. Earl Jarrett, CD, JP

“Oriens Ex Occidente Lux – A Light rising from the West.”


The motto of The University of the West Indies aptly describes the man, Professor the Hon. Rex Nettleford, whom we are gathered to honour this evening. He was a son of western Jamaica whose deeds inspired others; and whose life and work truly reflected…”a light rising from the West.”

Professor Nettleford espoused a “commitment to the multifaceted layers and texture of human existence”…and he regarded himself as a teacher.

Our university, in its more than six decades of existence, with its three main and 12 open campuses in the Caribbean region, has evolved to become a dynamic force in all things Caribbean.

Since its inception, the UWI has produced some 10 regional Prime Ministers, and thousands of other leaders and graduates who emerge to play pivotal roles in shaping the development of nation states throughout this region, as well as to contribute to the work of governments in developed nations, international agencies, and public and corporate entities around the globe.

This institution has also produced many academic and cultural icons, who have demonstrated their true potential on the world stage; not least of whom was Professor Nettleford.

Rex rose from humble beginnings in rural Jamaica to pursue a dynamic, selfless and distinguished life of service … one which has illuminated the lives of thousands across the world, instilling hope and self-confidence amongst many in all spheres of Caribbean society.

This evening the sponsors are proud to be associated with the launch of the Rex Nettleford Foundation, which seeks to “capture the essence of Prof’s diverse and numerous accomplishments and contributions”, as well as to motivate young people in our region to grasp the enormous opportunities that exist for those who espouse scholarship and use their talents in a similar manner.

Undoubtedly, his rise to the apex of regional life was fanned by the flames of a deep desire for education, which was nurtured and given room to grow and excel in what was still a fledging tertiary institution, The University College of the West Indies … established in 1948.

His achievements came through hard work, as Rex Nettleford attended the University in the 1950s – at a time when access to this tertiary education was one of few opportunities available to Caribbean students to aspire and attain a higher education.

Today, The University of the West Indies is one of our greatest symbols of regional pride and Rex Nettleford, is one of the most recognised embodiments of this pride.

He distinguished himself as an outstanding student who rose to become Pro Vice-Chancellor… while expanding the UWI’s extra-mural initiatives…and forging links between the institution’s growing research capabilities and corporate entities in the region.

In his capacity as an advisor and conceptualiser, Rex Nettleford used his strategic and visionary thinking to serve every government of Jamaica from independence… carrying the message and meaning of independence to people in rural Jamaica in 1962.

And he became one of the driving forces behind the Extra-mural Department at this University; he gave substance to the development of this country’s National Honours; and he represented Jamaica at numerous international fora and agencies, such as UNESCO – influencing studies and interventions, to engender a better life for Caribbean people.

As the founder of the National Dance Theatre Company, and a Director of the Little Theatre Movement, he used his talents and creativity to express the hopes and aspiration of Jamaicans through dance, music and the arts. His enduring works such as “Kumina”, “Court of Jah”, “Odyssey” and “Variations A Ska” highlight his message of spiritual expression and independence; and celebrates the confidence of the Jamaican people.

Professor Nettleford used all of his abilities, and the avenues available to him for the development of Jamaica; and through international and regional assignments – he was able to work towards the purpose of recreating his accomplishments through the people of Jamaica. And this recreation was by encouraging others that they, too, could duplicate his movement from what he described as the “hinterland of Falmouth” to one of the highest regional offices of the University.

And, while he toiled on local soil, as Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation, Professor Nettleford’s creative energy was felt by many Jamaicans around the globe.

Rex Nettleford’s life and ‘transformational leadership’ were real demonstrations of the fact that … it is through education and exposure…and the building of self confidence … that one’s life outcomes and circumstances can be radically changed.

The concept of the Rex Nettleford Foundation was mooted immediately after his death in February of this year, with the objective to continue his work of transformation through education; but, more so, to rekindle the spirit of philanthropy by encouraging all of us to support this University and education in the Caribbean.

History is replete with examples of how private contributions in pre-independence Jamaica – through various trusts and endowments – were instrumental in educating our people.  Many of our secondary institutions … Wolmer’s School for Girls … Wolmer’s Boys … Manning’s High … Jamaica College … Munro … St Georges’ College … Calabar … Immaculate Conception High … all began through private sector benevolence.

Unfortunately, this is level of involvement has waned significantly in our country’s post independence era. However, through the Rex Nettleford Foundation…all of us in this audience, and others in the region and the world, have another opportunity to rekindle that flame, and let the “light rise from the West,” as we commit ourselves to making the intentions, concepts and work of this Foundation one of which the Professor would be justly proud.

In 1970, Professor Nettleford published Mirror Mirror: Identity, Race and Protest in Jamaica which examined and analysed the impact of the issues of identify, race and protest. Hopefully through this Foundation and its work, we will continue the process of addressing not only the negative images reflected in that mirror of which he wrote; but, we will seek to address those negatives through our deeds.

I close with a quote from Professor Rex Nettleford: “The power to create and innovate remains the greatest guarantee of respect and recognition.”

That, I believe, ladies and gentlemen, should be the mandate and measure of the success of the Rex Nettleford Foundation.

I thank you…

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