Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, has given the Ministry’s commitment to ensuring that Jamaica secures the maximum benefits accruable, from its foremost musical genre, Reggae.
Speaking at the launch of Reggae Month 2012, at the Bob Marley Museum, Hope Road, St. Andrew, on January 24, Ms. Hanna assured that the Ministry would give stakeholders, such as organiser of the month-long celebration, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), the “necessary support…in any way we can,” to effect the requisite interventions that would yield accruable dividends to the nation.
“We have an open door policy to make sure that we take (the steps) that are necessary to make this an industry where Jamaicans can benefit, both locally and internationally, in terms of revenue generation, tax reform and, certainly, seeing those projects on the ground that we can all be proud of. We are a reggae nation and we need to re-claim our position as a cultural capital of the world,” Ms. Hanna said.
State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, who also spoke at the launch, urged that Reggae exponents seek to revert the genre’s role to one that promotes progression and advancement nationwide, in addition to providing entertainment.
“The music needs to become, again, one aimed at effecting a change in the society that makes people understand that this is a society that we want to (advance). I think that the Reggae music has a responsibility to organise and co-ordinate the people, so that they can overcome some of the (harsh) realities that we are facing. I am willing to ensure that the policies of the Government facilitate the advancement of the music,” Mr. Crawford said.
Deputy Director of Tourism, Jason Hall, whose agency, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), is a major sponsor of Reggae Month, said the country risked “losing control and ownership” of the genre, in light of the global appeal it has garnered. He made an impassioned appeal for the nation to collectively take steps to preserve this indigenous musical art form.
“Reggae music has become one of the most listened to forms of music around the world. It provides not only entertainment, but inspiration and upliftment to millions across the globe. To this end, organisations such as JaRIA have a critical and important role to play (in preserving the music). And, although there is much work to be done, JaRIA must be commended for the work they have done so far. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a nation to preserve and promote a culture. Everyone must come on board,” Mr. Hall said.
This year’s staging of Reggae Month (February), is the fifth since the celebrations commenced in 2008. Being held under the theme: ‘Reggae 50: Jamaica’s Heart and Soul’, the month-long activities coincide with the country’s Independence Jubilee.
The slated activities include: an ecumenical church service at the University Chapel, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona; a series of live concerts, incorporating Jamaica’s various music genres; seminars and symposia; and an awards ceremony.
The birthdays of two of Jamaica’s and Reggae Music’s late iconic exponents are commemorated during February. The late Dennis Brown, the genre’s acknowledged ‘Crown Prince’, is celebrated on February 1, while the late Robert Nesta ‘BoB’ Marley, the renowned ‘King’ is commemorated on February 6.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter