Reggae finally gets UN recognition as an intangible cultural heritage

Francis Akhalbey November 30, 2018
Photo via @bobmarley on Instagram

First of all, it’s about time!

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has finally inscribed reggae music on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity after Jamaica applied for it to be added to this year’s list.

The confirmation came after a UNESCO meeting in Mauritius, where officials reviewed 40 proposals of which reggae was part.

“Having originated within a cultural space that was home to marginalized groups, mainly in Western Kingston, the Reggae music of Jamaica is an amalgam of numerous musical influences, including earlier Jamaican forms as well as Caribbean, North American and Latin strains. In time, Neo-African styles, soul and rhythm and blues from North America were incorporated into the element, gradually transforming Ska into Rock Steady and then into Reggae.” UNESCO said in a statement.

“While in its embryonic state Reggae music was the voice of the marginalized, the music is 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.” The statement continued.

Originating in Jamaica in the 1960s, reggae music gained global acclaim especially in the United Kingdom and the United States thanks to Jamaican immigrants.

“Reggae is uniquely Jamaican.” Said Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. “It is a music that we have created that has penetrated all corners of the world.”

Legendary pioneers and global ambassadors of the genre during its evolution include The Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Lloyd Brevett and Lloyd Knibb from The Skatalites, Sly Dunbar, Anthony “Benbow” Creary from The Upsetters and Winston Grennan.

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: November 30, 2018


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