Governor-General’s Tribute to the Memory of Dr. the Hon. Olive Lewin OJ

Conveyed In Letter To Major (ret’d) Johanna Lewin


The passing of your beloved mother, Dr. the Hon. Olive Lewin, came as a great shock to Lady Allen and me. Although we were aware of her illness, we were not mentally or emotionally prepared for her passing. No one in Jamaica was, since to all of us she was so integral to our cultural existence that even though she has been off the national performing stage, her impact cannot be forgotten. This is what will make her live on in the hearts and minds of our nation.

Well do I remember her sterling leadership of the Jamaican Folk Singers which she founded. Through this group she rescued our folk music and today, we can enjoy that part of our heritage because of the Singers, as well as because of the tremendous work which Dr. Lewin did in the establishment of the Memory Bank, as well as in authoring iconic books on our culture. I also remember the inspiration she was to the children in the Jamaica Orchestra of Youth (JOY) and the pride which they gave us as they performed here at home and overseas.

Dr. Lewin was a dignified, articulate lady with an abiding commitment to her country and we all celebrated the National Honour of the Order of Jamaica which was justifiably awarded to her. We also celebrated the fact that her prowess as a cultural Ambassador was recognized by various countries and international organizations. She made us all feel proud to be Jamaicans.

These are very sad days for you, but know that you are not alone. We grieve with you, even as we pray that God will comfort you in your bereavement. We hope that rich memories of your mother and the enormous legacy she has left for all Jamaicans will continue to warm your heart. Please convey to other members of your family our heartfelt condolences.

Dr. Lewin will always be the exemplary Jamaican who gave of her best and whose heart was pure. May her soul rest in peace.