Music

Reggae named global cultural treasure

ENTERTAINMENT YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2018 NEWSMAKER

Sunday, December 30, 2018

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The Jamaica Observer continues its reflection on the year in entertainment. The daily column looks on the achievers, trendsetters, those who died and the controversies.

In November Reggae music secured a coveted spot on the United Nations' list of global cultural treasures.

UNESCO, the world body's cultural and scientific agency, added the genre to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” deemed worthy of protection and promotion.

“This is a historic day. We are very, very happy,” noted Entertainment and Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange.

“Anywhere you go and say you're from Jamaica, they answer 'Bob Marley,'” said Grange, adding that the distinction “underscores the importance of our culture and our music, whose theme and message is 'one love, togetherness and peace.'”

UNESCO noted that while reggae started out as “the voice of the marginalised” it was “now played and embraced by a wide cross section of society, including various genders, ethnic and religious groups.”

Its “contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual”, Paris-based UNESCO added in a statement.

Reggae joins a list of cultural traditions that includes the horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual and Czech puppetry, among more than 300 other traditional practices.

Jamaica applied for reggae's inclusion this year at a meeting of the UN agency on the island of Mauritius, where 40 proposals were under consideration.

While largely symbolic, inclusion on the UNESCO cultural heritage list can serve to raise the profile of the country and the practice.


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