Skip to main content

Is Reggae Jamaica's? Part 1

The clouds were swollen and ominous. We (Ro and I) were a bit tentative about attending. Besides, we thought we were too fashionably late for we are not into the Jamaican 5:30 p.m. versus the dancehall 5:30p.m. versus the real 5:30 p.m and all other versions of 5:30 that might exist.So we arrived; a little after 5:30p.m, on Tuesday, February 15, 2011, only to find one other person (Jo-jo) there, finding out that one other person came before to enquire about the event. So I guessed it would start at 5:30 p.m. Jamaica style after all. This, in fact was a lecture about Jamaican culture, it is only fitting to employ all aspects of the culture to set the ambiance (including the fact that nobody at the venue knew that an event was scheduled for that day at that time). This was no "Piahn-piahn" (hn produces nasal sound) event - it was the second 'lecture' organised by the Carolyn Cooper led, Global Reggae Studies Centre, which was held at Studio 38 New Kingston.

We eventually began at some point after 7 p.m. We were not at all concerned about the late start anymore because the ever effervescent, witty and charismatic Cooper ensured that our minds were quickly captivated by her mouth-slpit-wide-belly-cramping sarcastic humour. She told us about the birth of Global Reggae Studies Centre and its graudual exodus from its uptown Villa Ronai home in Old Stony Hill (until it hopefully gets to somewhere downtown).

Attendees were led on an excursion into the Jamaica from the not too distant past; where a village raised a child and boys would fight but the guns were absent; of rasta philosophy, shared by ball-head and niahbingi, bobo, twelve tribe rasta alike because it was more than mystical teaching - it was about livity; of black power; of absence of hunger and knowledge of poverty because people knew how to share. It was a recollection of 'real' Jamaican culture by a gentleman whom I can only recall being Cooper's deportee cousin, who according to Cooper is in the good company of our most honoured deportee, Marcus Garvey.

And then we had the lecture/reading/presentation.A Reggae lecture presented by two Germans? Yes! They were not there to tell us of the origin of reggae and the negotiation of power, identity, gender roles and sexuality in the performance of reggae. They spoke about the journey of reggae from the tenement yaad of Trench Town to the cities of Europe, in general and Germany, in particular. They told of their first encounter with reggae (making no distinction between roots reggae and its derivative hybrid, dancehall)and how it became their area of research and business and how reggae, albeit a potted plant in "imperial" Europe, survives, independent of Jamaica and Jamaican talents. The Germans have managed to appropriate reggae in some ways; making it theirs.

But can reggae really be anything but Jamaican and Jamaica's? Can the Germans make reggae theirs? What does this mean, financially for Jamaican reggae artistes and Jamaica whose art has been borrowed and "exploited"? Is this the reincarnation of imperialism? Do these Germans, who claim to have a love for Jamaica and Jamaican culture have a responsibility to offer solidarity to Jamaican Reggae performers to ensure the survival of the art form on the rock or is that too paternalistic an expectation? WHAT SAY YE?!

In part 2 we will discuss all of those questions and some of the other issues raised...


  1. Marcurse....ya ive totally been here....nice!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Comfort is OVERRATED & Will Stunt Your GROWTH!!!

I have been thinking a lot lately about success and growth. I think many of us aspire to success and there are different versions of how that may manifest in our lives. For some, success shows up in the accumulation of wealth, degrees, notoriety or accomplishing simple life goals. Personally, I believe that each of us deposited into this realm of existence came with a specific assignment to benefit the earth and that success will be measured by how well I have lived out my specific assignment.

(My Photo: Community Workshop facilitation)

Whatever success looks like to you, you will have to agree that success does not happen by osmosis or luck. Success begins with a paradigm shift. I call it the cultivation of the growth mindset. One ways of thinking that we have to cultivate in this growth mindset towards success is that we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. We underestimate and undervalue the profitability of challenge, opposition and discomfort in developing intellectu…

The Wicked Woman We Love to Hate!

Choose a Caribbean island - any one. There's a mother who's just beat her child with the first thing that her hands fall on. The Caribbean is inundated with narratives of mothers who dare not spare the rod and spoil the child - mothers who dig up ants nest and put their child to kneel in it, on a grater with their hands tied behind their back; mothers who use a hot iron to burn the hand of their thieving child; mothers who go into schools to box up the disrespectful child for answering back teacher and bringing shame to her name.
These are the things that Caribbean mothers do. They do this, not necessarily because they are wicked, but in the name of discipline.

We are a people who have learned violence. It's become part of our social DNA. Our parents learned that violence was how transgressors are taught to do better and behave better. They learned such violence from their parents, and their parents from theirs and their parents from the plantation. The whip is what we le…


Social Media, and in particular twitter, has become a space for spewing caustic and vitriolic effluent at people with whom we disagree. I am sometimes amazed at how people feel so empowered and emboldened sitting behind a screen to descend into the bowels of utter nastiness to express dissent to something that someone else posted. It is worse now that we have 280 characters instead of 140. It means that the nastiness is times two. But social media can be and has been used as a source of good. I have been the beneficiary of deep friendships and formed a formidable network of people who have supported and pushed me along in my professional and personal life.Yet, we do not hear many stories about the power and reach of social media. In this post, I want to speak about a quiet Superhero that I encountered on social media.

I had been working in three vulnerable communities in the last couple of years on a urban disaster risk reduction project being implemented by Habitat for Humanity Jamai…