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Celebrating Reggae Month 2016

H.E. Cheryl Spencer, High Commissioner of Jamaica

It is here again, Reggae Month, the month during which the impact of Reggae music on Jamaica’s social, cultural and economic development is celebrated.

Therefore, on the occasion of Reggae Month, the Jamaican High Commission in Pretoria welcomes the opportunity to join Reggae fans in South and Southern Africa in celebrating Reggae and its influence worldwide.

In fact, it is still very difficult to quantify the impact of that small Caribbean Island and its music on global culture. These days Jamaican music is everywhere, securing the country’s influence for many years to come. With lyrics that still balance the central themes of peace, love, justice and equality, Reggae is still the conscience of socio-political activities and policies.

It is no wonder that some say that Reggae is a way of life.

The theme for this year's celebrations is “Reggae Mekyah”, Jamaican patois translated “Reggae was made here”, which serves to highlight the country as the creator of Reggae.

It will be recalled that February was chosen as Reggae month not only because it is Black History month, but its suitability is reinforced by the fact that during this month, the birthday of the most internationally recognized artist from Jamaica, Bob Marley and that of the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown are celebrated.

Therefore, as is customary, the month-long celebrations will also include the Bob Marley celebrations throughout the island to commemorate the life and achievements of the legendary superstar. Two of the greatest achievements attributable to both his life and music which are constantly highlighted are:
(i)    His advocacy for social change, including the quest to reveal the experiences of people in a world outside his home country, Jamaica. In the short 36 years of his life, Bob Marley blazed a trail in using Reggae to denounce injustice and suffering.  and
(ii)    Simultaneously, he moved listeners to the music to forget their troubles and dance.
His ability to inspire people of all cultures and races still remain, even thirty five years after his death.

Apart from the Bob Marley Tribute concert on February 7, there is the annual Dennis Brown tribute concert that will be held on Saturday, February 27, the Reggae Open University, the JaRIA Honour Awards and Reggae Wednesdays.

The latter, Reggae Wednesdays, which is a weekly free concert, is one of the main events of Reggae Month and this year will commence its staging at Nelson Mandela Park, named after the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first Black President. The Nelson Mandela Park is in Half-Way Tree, the centre of the City of Kingston.

This year’s celebrations take on an added significance as it follows on the heels of the announcement of the designation of the City of Kingston, Jamaica, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as one of the 47 Creative Cities in the world. The country was specifically named for music and an integral part of the bid submitted by local authorities to the Creative City Forum was the work of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association and Reggae Month.

In a move aimed at highlighting another side of Jamaica to the world, the inaugural Montego Bay Reggae Month Carnival will be unfolded during the month of February.

Montego Bay is the country’s second City and Reggae Month Carnival will be held at various locations in and around the City. The Montego Bay event will not only be a platform for Reggae Artistes, but also an opportunity for local actors, composers, producers, and artisans to promote their respective crafts to the rest of the world. In that regard, tourists vacationing in the island will be targeted in an effort to convert them into die-hard fans of authentic Reggae. Tourists are a captive audience in Jamaica as the country attracts some three (3) million visitors annually.

As we celebrate one of the world’s most influential genres of music, Reggae, this month, let us honour and savour its influence coupled with the reality that, globally, many are the beneficiaries of a harvest flowing from a seed planted and nourished in a small Caribbean Island called JAMAICA. “Reggae Mek deh so” translated, “Reggae was made there”!

Walk Good!

Jamaican High Commission, Pretoria

 

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