Tue | Dec 18, 2018

A peace-full Reggae month - Organisers return to root of lyrics

Published:Wednesday | January 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett at the Reggae Month Launch inside Ribbiz recently.
Kamal Bankay
Bob Marley
Dennis Brown

Over the years, Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) and its partners have managed to establish February as the official month to celebrate reggae music and its practitioners. With taglines such as From di Root, to di World in 2011; Reggae 50: Jamaica's Heart and Soul in 2012; and Reggae Mekyah in 2016, the recurring message was that reggae originated in Jamaica and paved the way for other musical genres. However, for 2018, the direction is intended to be more meaningful.

The concerns of residents, non-residents and the diaspora have been recognised by JaRIA as it relates to the unavoidable pattern of crime and violence between 2017 and 2018. For this reason, Reggae Month will be used as a platform to preach peace, love and the importance of reggae within communities in Kingston and for Jamaicans in the diaspora using the genre of music that has already established itself as a brand that promotes messages of unification of people and rising up against all odds. The theme Peace, Love, Reggae was well-received during Monday's launch at Ribbiz.

Kamal Bankay, co-chairman for Reggae Month, opened the ceremony by explaining that the month-long celebration is not only special for its ability to attract visitors to the island. He says, "Like a pilgrimage and like a Mecca that Jamaica is described as for the genre, reggae can be the healing of the world".

In order to begin the process of turning this around, it is clear that there is a need to inject more positive, constructive deeds into the communities, and Reggae Month is just one effort in providing a platform.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett's speech expressed the significance of reggae as a sustainable product; not focused only on the events, but also the meaning and value of each to growth.

Referring to data from a survey conducted by the ministry to determine three words that came to mind when people thought of Jamaica, he says, "The first was food, second one was music, and the third was love."

"Jamaica is a country of food, music, and love. So no state of emergency, no negative publicity can stop this destination, because we are a people of food, music, and love, and that is why visitors keep coming back."

The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sports, have been charged with coordinating, supporting and marketing the activities, that will not only make Reggae Month attractive, but impact all the contributing communities by instilling peace.

According to Bartlett, the ministry is committed to ensuring that the tourism product remains safe, secure and seamless for visitors.

Reggae Month will kick start with the usual celebration of Jamaica's musical stalwarts - Dennis Brown on February 1 and Bob Marley on February 6 - on their birthdays, followed by a full calendar of events, weekly sessions, seminars, competitions and concerts.