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On January 9th 2008 the Government of Jamaica announced that the month of February was to be officially declared as Reggae Month. This was done to highlight and celebrate the impact of the musical genre on the country’s social, cultural and economic development. Additionally, the birthdays of two of Jamaica’s and Reggae Music’s late icons are commemorated during the month of February: The late Dennis Brown also known as the ‘Crown Prince of Reggae’, is celebrated on February 1, while the late Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley, the renowned ‘King of Reggae’ is celebrated on February 6.
The Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports was then charged with the responsibility of developing activities to make Reggae Month an international phenomenon and making Jamaica the showplace of Reggae Music for the world. The Proclamation which officially declared February Reggae Month was read by His Excellency Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, then Governor General of Jamaica, at an official ceremony at the Kings House held on Thursday, 24th January 2008.
Some of the activities for the inaugural observation of February as Reggae Month included the hosting of the Reggae Academy Awards, the Bob Marley Photographic Exhibition, Africa Unite/Smile Jamaica Youth Symposium, the annual Bob Marley Lecture, the African Film Festival, the Reggae Film Festival, the annual Irie FM Reggae Music Awards and the Bob Marley Creative Expression Day.
In 2009, under the theme ‘Reggae to di worl’, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), a non-governmental, non-profit organisation was formed and, through the Reggae Month Committee, given the task of co-ordinating events and activities for Reggae Month 2009 and beyond.
Reggae Month 2009 saw eleven stalwarts of Jamaica’s music industry being honoured and celebrated for their invaluable contribution to the development and international penetration of Reggae Music including Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari (MRR) who won a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Pam Hall and Dennis Brown who were honourees in the artistes’ category.
In 2010, Reggae Month was held under the theme: ‘To the Root’. Within the Diaspora, in accordance with Reggae Month, the ‘I Love Reggae Foundation’ musical event dubbed ‘Reggae Jazz on the Waterfront’ was held in Washington D.C. on February 19, in order to raise funds for the Alpha Boys Home in Kingston, which has produced some of Jamaica’s most outstanding musicians.
In 2011, free concerts were held at the Edna Manley College for the entire month of February under the theme ‘From di Root, to di World’ while in 2012, under the theme: ‘Reggae 50: Jamaica’s Heart and Soul’, the month-long activities coincided with the country’s Independence Jubilee celebrations. ‘Reggae 50…A New Dawn’ was the theme for Reggae Month 2013.
The Jamaican High Commission in London, in 2014, ended its Reggae Month celebrations with a special event paying tribute to women in Reggae Music. The theme for Reggae Month 2014 was ‘The Journey continues…’
JIS Radio Arts Page Links:
Last year Reggae Month 2015 was staged under the theme: The Journey is the Destination.
Reggae Month 2016 is being staged under the theme: Reggae Mekyah.
Please see a calendar of events for Reggae Month 2016 below.
Further Reading on Reggae Month: