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Celebrating REGGAE Month 2020 … Come Ketch Di Riddim

6 February 2020
 
By H.E. Angella Comfort, High Commissioner of Jamaica

This year, 2020, marks the start of a new decade with all the excitement and anticipation that such a milestone brings.  

For the lovers of Reggae music in Jamaica, on the African continent and the world over, the month of February is significant for the celebration of the rich cultural history of Reggae. February 6th, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Nesta Marley (lovingly known to all as Bob Marley) and during this month, the Government and people of Jamaica will welcome visitors from the world over for the 13th staging of Reggae Month activities.  

Many South Africans will also remember that August 2020 will mark the 56th Anniversary of the birth of Reggae Icon and son of the soil, Lucky Dube who holds a special place in the hearts of South Africans and Jamaicans as he was the first African Reggae superstar to perform on the island.  A talented and prolific artist, Lucky Dube released 22 albums in 3 different languages and although he is no longer with us in person, his sprit remains vibrant and alive through his music and that of his offspring Nkulee Dube.
Reggae Music – The Heartbeat of Jamaica.

In 2008, the Government of Jamaica officially proclaimed February as “Reggae Month” as a means of shining a spotlight on Jamaica’s musical history and heritage while paying homage to the icons whose talent and expertise laid a solid foundation for the art form.   The annual celebration has been a huge success, attracting on average some 40,000 attendees each year.

Reggae is widely acknowledged as the “heartbeat” of the Jamaican people.  Over the decades, the music has provided Jamaicans with an avenue for expressing themselves and communicating their joys and sorrows, hopes and successes to people everywhere.  

As many in South Africa and the rest of the continent can attest, Reggae played an important part in the struggles against oppression and will forever be celebrated for encouraging the downtrodden and marginalised to stand up for their rights.  

Reggae is also renowned as a music of love which seeks to encourage unity and peace. To this day, the well-known lyrics of “One Love,” one of Bob Marley’s seminal works which was named by the BBC as the Song of the Millennium, continues to evoke a palpable feeling of togetherness whenever it is played and whatever the setting.  

The value of Reggae as a musical genre was recognised in a very special way at the international level when, in November 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) voted to include Reggae music on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.   In doing so, UNESCO acknowledged that Reggae music had contributed to:
 “…the international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity…”

According to UNESCO, this underscored that Reggae as an art form was:
“…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.”

Reggae Month 2020 … Come Ketch Di Riddim

With 2020 being a leap year, this year’s Reggae month will allow reggae aficionados to celebrate 29 days’ worth of activities.
Those who have visited the island for previous Reggae Month celebrations will be happy to hear that some of their old favourites including the ever popular Reggae Wednesdays, Reggae Films in the Park and the “Grounation” Series, will be back in full force this year and as usual, the activities will commence with a church service.

Those who wish to explore the academic side of the discussions on Reggae, may be interested in the Bob Marley Lecture, the Reggae Music Symposium or the Jamaica Music Conference.  Sports enthusiasts and, in particular, fans of Jamaican Olympian Asafa Powell should take note that a statue in his honour will be unveiled as part of Reggae Month celebrations.

There are also new activities, including concerts to celebrate the Children of Reggae Icons who by virtue of their genealogy, not only have Reggae in their DNA but also have been propelled by their innate talent into the performance of Reggae music.  

Another new feature this year is the development of the “Reggae Month App”.  The App is intended to be truly interactive and to provide a platform on which to share information about Reggae Month 2020 activities to the public at large.  Through the App, the public will have access in one convenient location, to a comprehensive list of the activities and events organised by private promoters, those organised by the Government of Jamaica and endorsed by the Reggae Month Secretariat, as well as other important information about the staging of Reggae Month this year.  

All are encouraged to download the Reggae Month App, available for both Android and IOS devices, to see the schedule of events and get push notifications with up to the minute news regarding Reggae Month activities.

For our part, as representatives of the Government of Jamaica in Pretoria, with responsibility for several countries in Southern and Eastern Africa, the Jamaican High Commission wishes to encourage everyone, whether you are a member of the Diplomatic community in South Africa, a national of South Africa or another country on the continent, or a Jamaican who has made Africa your home, to… “Come Ketch Di Riddim”… and make a plan to visit Jamaica, the birthplace of Reggae,  for Reggae Month 2020 or indeed any other time of the year.  

We can assure you that on your return, you will be very glad you did.  For in the words of Bob Marley…“One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain…”

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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January/February 2020

 
 
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