JIS News

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  • The Ministry of Youth and Culture has embarked on a nation-wide initiative to collect and document various aspects of Jamaica’s intangible cultural heritage, as part of efforts to safeguard and preserve the nation’s rich legacy.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who made the announcement, on October 28, at a press conference at her New Kingston offices, said the project is being led by the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ), a division of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ).
  • She informed that the IOJ is in the process of preparing an electronic portal to collect and preserve the cultural data.

The Ministry of Youth and Culture has embarked on a nation-wide initiative to collect and document various aspects of Jamaica’s intangible cultural heritage, as part of efforts to safeguard and preserve the nation’s rich legacy.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who made the announcement, on October 28, at a press conference at her New Kingston offices, said the project is being led by the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ), a division of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ).

She informed that the IOJ is in the process of preparing an electronic portal to collect and preserve the cultural data. “We want to have the largest archive of Jamaican intangible cultural heritage in the world. Nobody else should have that, but us,” she said.

Ms. Hanna, therefore, encouraged Jamaicans to get involved in the national drive by compiling, documenting and sending their own videos, recordings, interviews or drawings of traditional Jamaican practices to the ACIJ for preservation.

Elements of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) include oral expressions, social practices, rituals, traditional craftsmanship and the performing arts.

“No matter how small you might think it is…we encourage you to send it to the IOJ…so that we can chronicle it and create a database of intangible cultural heritage for Jamaica. [This is to ensure] that persons who come to Jamaica can have an understanding of who we are, and that people can study our culture,” she said.

“You are not giving us your only copy for us to take. Essentially, we’ll make a copy of what you’ve done, so that you can keep the original,” she explained.

The Minister said it is also very important to preserve aspects of the country’s cultural practices, such as various dance forms, music, food and art pieces for the future generation.

Ms. Hanna said the aim of the initiative is to continue the trend that was started by the late Dr. Olive Lewin, who was asked to develop the Jamaica Memory Bank to preserve Jamaica’s folklore and folk music.

She noted that over the past year, the ACIJ, along with several other institutions such as the National Library, the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts and the University of the West Indies have been conducting workshops to assist community members in collecting this data.

Senior Research Fellow, IOJ, David Brown, further implored young Jamaicans to use the initiative to preserve and partake in aspects of the country’s culture that are being lost.

“We take for granted these traditions and also in taking them for granted, we make them pass. We need to ensure that this doesn’t happen and we need to preserve it,” he said.

The community-based intangible cultural heritage initiative is being supported by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Japanese Funds-in-Trust and Nordic Funds-in-Trust.

For further information persons are encouraged to contact the ACIJ at 922-7415 or 922-4793 or the IOJ at 922-0620-6.