UNESCO Adds Reggae Music To Global Cultural Heritage List
11/29/2018 by Gardy Stein
What a memorable day! Today, on November 29th 2018, Reggae Music of Jamaica has been included on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Under nomination file No. 01398, Jamaica's Minister of Culture, Gender and Entertainment Olivia Grange, representing her nation at the meeting of the UN agency on the island of Mauritius, has applied for the inclusion of Reggae music on the list earlier this year. Successfully, as we now know!
In the Committee's explanatory statement it says: "Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual. The basic social functions of the music – as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God – have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all." (source: UNESCO). When the decision was announced in front of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Mrs. Grange held a moving speech of gratitude after which Bob Marley's millennial song One Love was played and prompted most members of the Committee to get up and dance (see video above). With today's decision, Reggae joins the only other Jamaican entry on the list, the Maroon Heritage of Moore Town (which was voted to enter in 2008), and hundreds of equally deserving cultural heritages around the world.
Now, apart from the pride and joy this fact brings, what does it mean for Reggae to be included on this list? Generally speaking, the list aims to make sure that communities, groups and individuals involved in the listed activity are respected and appreciated - nationally and internationally. More specifically, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage says in articles 11 - 15 that Jamaica as a member state shall:
- "take the necessary measures to ensure the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory" (Art. 11a)
- "draw up, in a manner geared to its own situation, one or more inventories of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory" (Art. 12.1)
- "ensure the safeguarding, development and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory" (Art. 13)
- "ensure recognition of, respect for, and enhancement of the intangible cultural heritage in society" (Art. 14) and
- "endeavour to ensure the widest possible participation of communities, groups and, where appropriate, individuals that create, maintain and transmit such heritage, and to involve them actively in its management" (Art. 15) (source: UNESCO)
Thus, the Jamaican Government is now obliged to recognize and honour the efforts of so many of its highly skilled and talented citizens and support both the history and the further development of Reggae music. The jubilant reactions on social media channels and news sites around the world show the overall positive attitude towards this musical tradition, and, rest assured, next year's celebration of the Reggae Month (February) in Jamaica will be very special!
IN THE PRESS
Reggae Music To Be Protected by The Un [JAMAICA-GLEANER.com - November 30,2018]
Reggae Is Now On UNESCO's Cultural Heritage List [BILLBOARD.com - November 29,2018]
Reggae Added to UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ List [ROLLINGSTONE.com - November 29,2018]
Reggae Music To Be Protected by the UN [BBC.com - November 29, 2018 ]
Reggae Music gets UNESCO protected status [CNN.com - November 29, 2018]
UNESCO adds Reggae Music to global cultural heritage list [Al Jazeera / Channel News Asia - Nov. 29, 2018]
Reggae zählt jetzt zum Immateriellen Weltkulturerbe [Die Zeit - November 29, 2018]