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Professor Emerita, Dr. Joycelynne Eleanor Loncke, Ph.D., LRSM, FTCL, A.A., C.C.H
February 3, 1941 to December 24, 2021
Professor Joycelynne was born in Albouystown on February 3, 1941 to Ivy Nelbertha Loncke (nee Archer) and Francis Percival Loncke. She was the sister of the late Ivy, Patricia, Yvonne and John. She attended Queenstown Roman Catholic School where her father was headmaster, and St Rose`s High School. As a recipient of the then British Guiana prestigious scholarship, she read for, and obtained, her bachelor`s degree in French from the University College of the West Indies (Mona), a graduate diploma from Sorbonne (Paris), and her doctorate from Somerville College (Oxford). She embarked on a teaching career at the University of the West Indies, and subsequently joined the Department of Modern Languages at University of Guyana, where she held several positions including Head of Department, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She was eventually awarded Professor Emerita. Parallel to her academic pursuit she pursued studies in music and attained the Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM), London. She also became a Fellow of the Trinity College of Music (FTCL), London. She received national, regional and international awards including the Chevalier of Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French Government, and the Golden Arrow of Achievement and the Cacique`s Crown of Honour from the Government of Guyana.
In addition to her musical and academic pursuits, she also became immersed in the Pan African Movement. In those spheres she may well be referred to as a Three Star Matriarch of Music, Languages and Pan Africanism.
In the arena of music, she followed in the footsteps of her parents both of whom attained the LRSM. She even exceeded their achievements. She became a maestro concert pianist, who enthralled many with her energetic, majestic and exhilarating concert performances and recitals. She encouraged and empowered many in the field of music as she passed on that skill to many as a Professor of Music. She tutored many privately; she launched the Certificate in Music programme at the University of Guyana and through that programme elevated Pan to the level of university study and tuition, especially catering for the training of music teachers, many of whom are still in the school system; she sustained the existence of the Princeville Orchestra, which her father bequeathed to the music fraternity of Guyana. She received the baton from her fore-parents, excelled whilst carrying it and has passed it on to the successor generation.
She was no less an achiever in the sphere of Languages. Her vocation was that of an educator specializing in French Literature and French as a language, in particular. She served the University for some forty-five years as a lecturer and Professor of French and Music and on many occasions almost singlehandedly carried those portfolios. She was also a national asset in this sphere and for many years was the Nation`s main translator of important documents and the go-to interpreter on the occasions of the visits of French speaking dignitaries to Guyana. Her language skills were also in high demand across the Caribbean. As a spin off she also paid much attention to the study of culture in the Francophone Caribbean. It was therefore no surprise that the French Government found it fitting to bestow her with an award. The University also recognized her sterling stewardship with the award of one of its first emeritus professorships.
The third mainstay of Professor Loncke`s illustrious live was Pan Africanism. In this regard, it is said that her mother was a quintessential Pan Africanist, who influenced the entire family to think and live Pan Africanism. It was therefore no surprise that Professor Loncke became a Pan Africanist in form and substance. Her mode of dress was none other than African. Her hair style in perpetuity was afro and in life her grounding was her African heritage. She lived her Africaness and sought to use the Pan African Movement as her vehicle to perpetuate the heritage of Guyanese of African descent and for networking with the African diaspora and African itself. From time-to-time she almost singlehandedly and unswervingly carried that torch. This led to her being the Founder and mainstay of the Guyana Chapter of the Pan African Movement. She spearheaded its biennial conferences and its monthly education sessions which attracted Pan Africanist from across the globe. She also maintained the publication of the Drum that focused on things Pan African. She pioneered the establishment of the Pan African Garden, which today stands as a legacy of her commitment, dedication and hard work.
Professor Loncke was an amazing and phenomenal person. At the core she was patriotic, albeit Afro-centric. How she did all that she did is still to be told. What was however obvious was that even as she compartmentalized, she was able to synthesize. For example, she pioneered the observation of the Day of the African Child in Guyana and observed it with an annual concert thus synergizing her African interest with her interest in music. She also pioneered the introduction of a course in Akan, a West African language, at the University of Guyana. This she did in so many ways and through some many other organizations and endeavours thus making her and her life complete. In all of this, she also paid much attention to family. Her sole nephew, by her brother, speaks of her caring for him from age 14 to 19, not to mention her as her sister`s care-giver for approximately 20 years.
Her nephew summed up her life thus: “I`d describe her as an angel, a humble musical genius, a genuine humanitarian, and a very loving and caring sister, aunt, friend, and teacher’.