Diaspora welcomes Reggae Month
The saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ could not be more true for Jamaicans living in the diaspora. As we continue to observe Reggae Month, Jamaicans living in other countries have come out to express their gratitude for being included in the monthlong celebrations. Pointing out how much more the culture means now that they are away from home, diaspora members say their appreciation for reggae music has grown tremendously.
“Since becoming consul general in October 2018, I think I have become more Jamaican than I have ever been because there are so many activities celebrating Jamaica. It’s like when you’re away from home, somehow even a piece of yam taste nicer than it has ever been. Things that you take for granted at home, you appreciate more when you’re away and I think that is what has happened in the diaspora,” said Oliver Mair, Jamaica’s consul general in Miami. “We galvanise more, we come together more and we celebrate everything about Jamaica in a new, fresh way. From our vantage point here in the Diaspora, reggae is alive and well. One of the major objectives that we have is engaging our second, third and fourth generation Jamaicans to embrace Jamaica more than becoming climatised to being American. Reggae music and our culture aims to be at the forefront in terms of galvanising them and keeping our Jamaica strong. Here in the diaspora, Reggae Month has been well received. As Tony Rebel say, ‘Reggae put Jamaica pan top’, and we believe that here in the diaspora and so we continue to push Reggae Month and the virtual events.”
The consulate has been hosting a boatload of activities to mark Reggae Month including poetry readings, Bob Marley tributes, a weekly event dubbed Sunday Scoops and Reggae Month story time, which had its most recent session yesterday. According to Mair, being an integral part of Reggae Month has a great deal to do with identity.
“You come here (to the US) with different cultures and so Jamaicans have to pull together to be stronger and to exist in a new space. We celebrate our Jamaican-ness and culture as a way of sticking together and being stronger and showcasing to the world what we have, which people love and embrace. We fully embrace Reggae Month and look forward to participating in all the activities.”
Also sharing how excited the city or Miramar has been to be a part of the Reggae Month celebrations, Commissioner Alexandra Davis agreed with Mair that becoming involved in the festivities was due largely in part to identifying as Jamaican. “We (in the diaspora) are proud of our heritage and we want to make sure we showcase it to our children and their children to ensure that it never dies. We need to remember our heritage because who we are at the core are Jamaicans and we want to know that we can pass that along no matter where we are in the world,” she said. “We hope going forward that we do other events throughout the month of February. We at the diaspora always try where we can especially in the position of elected officials in the city of Miramar, to partner with Jamaica to bring Reggae Month outside of the island.”
UK Reggae Month collaborator, Rudi Page, whose Fresh FM radio has been making vital reggae links with Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, told The Gleaner that he was happy to see the country trying to rope in the diaspora in the Reggae Month activities. Pointing out that the diaspora is an extended family, Page said he does not want the Jamaicans living outside of Jamaica to feel separate from the country of their birth. He said the smoother the pathways that connects the diaspora to Jamaica are, the stronger the relationships will be.
“It’s important that you see the diaspora as part of your borderless family because these messages are really important in terms of relationship building,” he said, highlighting that the virtual celebrations have been making the latter easier. “The digital connectivity allows a level of collaboration that historically hasn’t been there because you’re able to bring together many partners. For the foreseeable future, we will be delivering online and so we have to keep the digital connectivity going.”