The Caribbean Community mourns the loss of three major literary figures in one week, saying their deaths have undoubtedly created a void in the continued development of the region’s culture.
In a press release the Caricom Secretariat paid its respects to Jamaica’s Trevor Rhone and Trinidad and Tobago’s Wayne Brown who both passed away on September 15 and to Suriname’s Henk Tjon who died on September 18.
Rhone, who died at the age of 69, was known for his mastery as a playwright, exploring the experiences of ordinary people both urban and rural. He co-authored, with the late Perry Henzell, the Jamaican film The Harder They Come and authored Jamaican plays Smile Orange and Old Story Time the last of which has become a classic studied by students across the region for the CSEC examinations. Caricom said, “Through his exceptional talents as a playwright, director and actor Rhone contributed extensively to the cultural development of Jamaica and the Caribbean.”
Tjon, 61, was the co-founder of the Doe-theatre and founder and artistic director of the National Theatre of Suriname and the Alakondre Dron Music Ensemble. “His critical role and influence in the cultural development of Suriname has been tremendous,” said Caricom. Tjon was passionate about Carifesta and the cultural integration of the region.
He also actively participated in every Carifesta since its debut in 1972 and served seven times, as designer and artistic director of Suriname’s cultural contingent to the Festival and as artistic director of Carifesta VIII held in Suriname.
In paying tribute to Brown, 65, the Caricom Secretariat noted that his literary career encompassed his work as one of the leading poets of the Caribbean, short story writer and newspaper columnist.
He is best known for his prize-winning anthology On the Coast and as the biographer of the Jamaican sculptress Edna Manley, wife of the former Prime Minister of Jamaica Norman Manley. “His biting and often trenchant weekly columns in the Trinidad Express and Jamaica Observer newspapers earned him the admiration of many in the region,” Caricom said.
Brown made Jamaica his home where he made a lasting contribution to the mentoring, training and development of scores of writers both young and old through his writing workshops.
“Such was his influence that many went on [to] register for and earn MFA degrees from prestigious US universities and to be published internationally. More than any other single person, Wayne Brown was responsible for the development of a new generation of writers in Jamaica,” Caricom said.
The Caribbean Community applauds the excellent contributions of these cultural icons and mourns their deaths.
It extends condolences to their relatives and to the governments and peoples of Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.