UN Adds Reggae Music to List of International Cultural Treasures | Reggae

The United Nations has added reggae music to its list of international cultural treasures worthy of protection and promotion.

Jamaica asked for recognition of its musical tradition at a UN meeting in Mauritius this year. “It is music that we have created and that has penetrated all corners of the world,” said the country’s Minister of Culture, Olivia Grange.

BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter Dave Rodigan said: “Unesco’s announcement is fantastic news for reggae, which has traditionally spoken out for the underprivileged while offering hope for a world in which the love and respect are paramount.

To mark the inscription of reggae on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, Unesco – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – declared: “[Reggae’s] contribution to the international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underlines the dynamics of the element as being at the same time cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual.

The function of music “as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice and a means of praising God” had not changed since its emergence from the Caribbean in the late 1960s, Unesco said.

Reggae artist Hollie cook said politicians could take inspiration from reggae’s “strong message of peace, love and unity” and described its cultural impact as “a great example of how immigration has a big and positive effect in our society. Maybe some of the leaders of our country can put their pens down, stop spreading fear and blow an Aswad to relax.

Hollie Cook performing at the 2012 Womad Festival. Photograph: C Brandon / Redferns via Getty Images

Post-war immigration from Jamaica led to the genre’s boom in the UK: this year the famous British reggae label Trojan celebrated its 50th anniversary. Laurence Cane-Honeysett, author of The Trojan Records Story, described the UN recognition as an “incredibly positive” gesture. “The impact and influence of gender on a global scale has long been overlooked.

“He made a significant contribution to the development of multiculturalism, with ska, rock regular and reggae of the 60s and early 70s having a markedly positive effect in breaking down social barriers by bringing people of all colors together,” especially in Great Britain.

BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Don Letts told the Guardian the enduring importance of reggae: “If you look at a map of the world, Jamaica is a small island that spent hundreds of years under colonial rule. Ironically, in the 21st century, it has culturally colonized the planet.

“The island’s culture, characterized by its art, language, dance and attitude, continues to capture the imaginations of people around the world. Sound experiments created in Jamaican studios are now part of the fabric of contemporary music. Jamaica is a testament to the power of culture to act as a tool for social change, albeit at the local level. “

Letts said reggae “can take care of itself,” but added, “There is no doubt that Jamaica has not reaped the rewards of its cultural impact, and this is what the island does. really needs. If the UN can fix this, go ahead.

The Unesco list started in 2008, following an international convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. He defines what as “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, know-how – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with them – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage ”.

The objectives of the convention are to safeguard, ensure respect, raise awareness and ensure international cooperation and assistance. Other traditions on this year’s list include dry stone wall art, Slovenian bobbin lace, Georgian chidaoba wrestling, the irish sport of hurling, Poland szopka the tradition of the nativity scene and the traditional festive spring rites of Kazakh horse breeders.

It is distinct from World Heritage List, which designates important physical sites, including the Pyramids of Giza and the Cornish mining landscape.

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