Jamaica wants reggae inscribed on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list

Jamaica wants reggae inscribed on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list

Few music genres have had a considerable global impact as reggae. Reggae grew from its roots in Jamaica to influence societies and other musical forms across the world. In Africa in particular, reggae has apparently contributed to the development of counter-cultural movements.


Seen as the sound of the oppressed and a tool through which to inspire and liberate Africans, reggae has always been big here. Bob Marley’s performance on Zimbabwe’s independence is one testament to the fact. Another is the renowned list of reggae musicians such as South Africa’s Lucky Dube, Cote d’Ivoire’s Alpha Blondy, and Nigeria’s Majek Fashek, to name a few.


It seems long overdue that Jamaica is preparing to submit reggae for consideration to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by 2017.  Should Jamaica succeed, reggae will be joining the likes of Argentina’s tango and classical Chinese opera, both of which are listed intangible cultural heritages.


Jamaica’s Ministry of Youth and Culture believes this move will protect the history of reggae music. This suggests that Jamaica is concerned about the possible cultural appropriation of reggae and is seeking to protect it let others present the elements of reggae as theirs.


Since the early 1990s, concerns have risen that reggae is no longer dominated by Jamaicans and international fans forget where the genre was born. The founders of reggae have largely been relegated to the sidelines, while others profit from their creativity. For this reason, the UNESCO seal of approval could help in defending reggae’s roots and empowering local artistes.


Do you think that there is a need to protect reggae music? Is reggae too global to be reconnected with its Jamaican roots? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta

Rafeeat Aliyu

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