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Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Office, Dr. Kamal Idris and staff, my colleagues Ministers of Government, members of the Jamaican diplomatic Mission here in Geneva, and distinguished delegates; I bring you warm greetings on behalf of the Government and People of Jamaica.
I am honoured to represent the most defining value and asset of the Jamaican People; Our Culture!
This Culture that I am proud to share with you today springs from the creative imagination of a diverse people, forged in a crucible of common experiences, struggles and successes and expressed to the world in our national motto- “Out of Many, One People!”
Jamaica’s cultural exports to the world have been nothing short of phenomenal. We are the people who gave the world the exquisite gift of Bob Marley, whose enduring sound and timeless lyrical messages continue to rock the world and to shape universal perspectives for human life and existence.
Yet the story of my island home – Jamaica, the little rock with a population of 2.7 Million people begins with the indigenous people- the Arawak and the Carib Indians, also known as the Tainos.
Succeeding chapters chronicle the people who came- the Spanish first, and then the English, and the people who were brought- the Africans as slaves, to be followed by the East Indians and the Chinese as indentured labourers.
Together, these peoples of different origin and backgrounds, brought their the traditions and influence, adding their own flavours to create a culturally fertile melting pot that gives Jamaica its own unique essence and place in the world.
For the English and the Spanish, they came in search of wealth in the New World. For the People of African descent who were brought bound in chains- it was about survival for life, identity, family, religion, culture and self determination. And for the Indians, the Chinese, the Syrians and Jews, who hailed from differing societies and circumstances, it was about the shared pursuit of a better way of life.
Ladies and Gentlemen, what has been remarkable in the history and evolution of the Jamaican People, is how all these peoples in the face of cultural and language barriers, learned to communicate and to co-exist on this little Rock in the Caribbean Sea called Jamaica, to over time, create a fusion of cultures that today expresses itself in a bold, vibrant, unique people with a culture that is so compelling and amazing by virtue of the huge Jamaican footprints located all over the globe.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is my Jamaica!
Look at us in any mirror and see the reflection of a people who have defined itself through diversity, who have formed a common purpose through individual talent, acumen and creativity.
Diagnose with any stethoscope the heartbeat and pulse of Jamaica, and you will detect the rhythm of a bold, vibrant people with unmatched skill in areas of cultural expression and creative enterprise. My Jamaica is a living example of Creativity in Diverse Cultures – and as you will see, I am excited to speak on this topic on which I have been asked to speak today.
So:Look with me, at the country which gave the world not only the legendary Bob Marley, but also the unbridled talents of Jimmy Cliff, Monte Alexander, the I Threes in Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, Third World, Shabba Ranks, Sean Paul, Damian Marley and of course, Mr. Orville “Shaggy” Burrell, who is here with us this morning.
Listen with me to authentic Jamaican musical genres-mento, ska or blue beat, reggae, and dance hall music.all embracing the unmistakable “sounds of Jamaica”.
Reflect with me on the country which gave birth to the only new Religion of the 20th Century- Rastafari -a mystical movement born out of the Pan African experience.
Learn with fascination about Kumina, one of the most African of our retentions; an engaging dance form using the K’bandu drums and Playing Cast to create the most amazing musical tones and rhythms; the K’bandu drums alone are responsible for 45 different base tones created by the drummer simply using his heel on the head of the drum. isn’t that amazing!
Read of the exploits of our first National Hero the Right Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, internationally acclaimed black philosopher, who along with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, are hailed for the catalytic and powerful influence on the movement of liberating people of colour around the world.
Be entertained by the artistic work of our cultural icon Miss Lou whose poetry went a far way in ‘legitimizing’ the Jamaican language which gave the everyday Jamaican the “licence” to express in the most colourful, articulate and effective ways, untying the tongues of successive generations to tell stories of the Jamaican experience through poetry, songs and “riddims”.
Watch the cult classic film “The Harder they Come” starring Jimmy Cliff and written by Trevor Rhone, one of our world famous writers for stage and the silver screen.
Taste the Jamaican cassava bammy, still prepared as handed down to us by the indigenous Tainos People. Bammy and fried fish, is now a favourite of our visitors to Hellshire Beach in Jamaica and Port Royal, where they are sunken treasures yet to be discovered.
Indulge in our Jerk Sauce (a unique blend of spices spiked with Spanish and African influences (sometimes too hot to handle). Sample our Blue Mountain Coffee the best in the world and with a touch of our Jamaican coffee liqueur Tia Maria, and savour the flavour. Feel good all over with a drink of Jamaican rum.
Ladies and gentlemen, I could go on and on. But permit me to say that creativity in our diverse culture extends beyond music, song and dance, but also to the sciences. One of our famous scientists and geneticists, Dr T. P Lecky developed three new distinct breeds of cattle- the disease resistant Jamaica Hope and the Jamaica Red, as well as the Jamaica Black, reared for the fine quality of beef it yields.
T.P. Lecky’s ground-breaking work in the 1960’s revolutionized the Jamaican Beef and Dairy Industry and improved the lives of countless small farmers.
And since I am here in a country that is widely regarded as the pharmaceutical capital of the world, I should use the opportunity to tell you about Canasol, the trademark drug for the treatment of glaucoma discovered and developed by our scientists Professor Manley West and Dr Albert Lockhart from the world’s most famous herb- the Marijuana Plant- or cannabis sativa or ganja.
Cannabis sativa is also the base for another pharmaceutical drug Asmasol used for asthma treatment and available and used in the UK, Canada, Holland and of course Jamaica.
We also know that there are yet to be discovered health remedies in many of our indigenous plants and herbs as evidenced by their use by another group of indigenous people- the Jamaican Maroons.
The Maroons who live in our mountainous country add a rich dimension to the Jamaican culture and heritage and their warrior spirit and history of defiance against slavery have inspired generations of great Jamaicans. .Jamaicans, whom you have come to know and admire like:
– Asafa Powell, the world’s fastest man and three time record holder over the 100 meter sprint. – Veronica Campbell, 100 metre World and Olympic champion, who along with Asafa, have graced the racing tracks of Europe. Other Jamaicans like.- Captain Barrington Irving, who became the youngest pilot at 23 to fly solo around the world.- Or the young student software developers from Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica, who won 3rd prize among the World’s Best in the Annual Microsoft Imagine Cup software design competition.
Ladies and gentlemen, what this demonstrates to us is that our natural propensity for imagination, creativity and expression is a wellspring that continuously precipitates an abundance and preponderance of unique Jamaican culture gifts and expressions.
It is what makes us a bold and confident people with a “can do” attitude. It is for this primary reason that Jamaica prides itself as the cultural capital of the Caribbean.
The Government of Jamaica is firmly committed to managing this incredible resource to the economic benefit of the People of Jamaica. Our mission is to effectively harness the talent and creativity of our “likkle but tallawah” (little but powerful).
Most importantly, we are seized by the fact that it is the culturally inspired creativity and innovation of the Jamaican People that will form the platform for sustained wealth creation for our all our people.
In this regard, we seek to continue building on the goodwill and respect we have developed over these years with out global partners in pursuit of this imperative, particularly the World Intellectual Property Office, which has played a seminal role in assisting Jamaica with the institutional support to develop its intellectual property and rights management legislative framework.
Because of WIPO, we have JIPO- the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office- and for that Mr. Director-General, we ask you to accept the grateful thanks of the Jamaican People, as we pursue the process of establishing even stronger IP systems to support the Jamaican Creative Industries.
Our Grammy award winning Jamaican artist Shaggy will no doubt share with you that much of the success of our Jamaican industry practitioners has been achieved outside of structured national programmes or a macro-economic policy framework supportive of the full development of the creative industries.
We have had to come up the curve quickly and utilise the system of intellectual property, so that many creatives who have suffered unfair commercial agreements in the past, can today claim returns from their intellectual property. The experience of the Jamaican music industry, which I know very well, has taught many of our artistes and entertainers that there is an economic as well as moral right to their work in the context of the creative industries. The commitment of the new government of Jamaica is to build our economy by placing policy and planning focus on the creation of a supportive environment for the creative industries. It is therefore now a priority subject of our country’s trade and investment agenda, and in this regard, the creative industries will be treated as a major engine for economic growth.
The Jamaican Creative Industries will not only have the benefit of the fuel of a strong legislative framework supportive of the protection of the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property, but also a well oiled monitoring and implementing mechanism, aided by organisations such JIPO, represented here today by Carol Simpson; JACAP the Jamaica Association of Composers Authors and Publishers of which I am a founding Director. JACAP as you know, functions as a non government entity in collective rights management, along with companion organization, JAMCOPY, the Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency, represented here by its vice-chairman, Mark Thomas, who also serves with Jamaica Trade and Invest.
Over the past two years, Jamaica has intensified its efforts to accurately assess the contribution of copyright-based industries to the national economy. With WIPO support in the commissioning of a 2006 study, we now have some answers.
Key among the findings of this WIPO Commissioned study confirmed by JIPO is that given the context of low levels of state funding, the copyright based industries contribute approximately 5.1% to Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product, which equates with the contribution to GDP by the traditional mining and agriculture sectors.
In this regard, I must again must pay tribute to the commitment of Dr. Kamil Idris and the WIPO staff for leading the charge to educate the governments and peoples of the Caribbean region and indeed elsewhere, on the potency of intellectual property as a critical and necessary tool for economic development.
Under your watch, Jamaica and the Caribbean have gained improved understanding of the role of intellectual property in the creative and cultural industries.
In Jamaica, we are enhancing the global competitiveness of our creative industries, by:- Enhancing the national framework for Geographical Indicators legislation. We have already prepared some draft Geographical Indicators Regulations and will complete these over the next twelve (12) months under the auspices of our partnership with the Swiss IP Institute.
– Jamaica has a competitive advantage in respect of certain non-traditional agricultural produce, such as our condiments, jerk seasoning, spices as well as our Blue Mountain and Wallenford brands of coffee and Jamaica rums. These products however are being rampantly passed off as Jamaican goods by foreign companies, with false labelling and points of origin.This is a matter of great concern for us, and we do intend to vigorously address this situation in the World Trade Organisation, the WTO.
In the meantime,- The Jamaican Patents & Designs Act is currently being overhauled as we seek simultaneously to encourage local researchers, innovators and inventors to register their works.
– Our trade, investment and culture/heritage preservation agencies are also working with the indigenous communities of the Maroon Councils, the Rastafarian Councils to strengthen their capacities to develop intellectual property tools and arrangements to stem the bastardization of their cultures and proprietary interests. I am just arriving from Paris where UNESCO has declared the Jamaican Maroon Culture and Traditions as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This indeed a great acknowledgement that further validates the strength of Jamaican culture in the history and development of the world.
So ladies and gentlemen, despite our progress to date, we are reminded by one of our fine Jamaican creative geniuses that- “there are still many rivers to cross!” on the journey to fully develop our creative industries in the context of sound intellectual property regimes.
But we are equal task and we face the future with hopeful optimism as only Jamaicans can, and we continue to count on the support and generosity of the WIPO community on this important journey.
I thank you for your attention this morning. It has been my pleasure to share. Please accept the grateful thanks of the government and people of Jamaica.

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