UNESCO, the United Nations cultural and scientific agency, has added reggae music from Jamaica to its list of global and cultural treasures.
The announcement came at UNESCO’s meeting in Mauritius, where 40 proposals were under consideration—including Jamaica’s inclusion of reggae.
Reggae, which was popularized by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and other bands, is music of the oppressed, especially black men.
The reggae music of Jamaica combines musical influences from earlier Jamaican forms as well as Caribbean, North American and Latin strains. It basically functions as a vehicle of social commentary, as a cathartic experience, and as a means of praising God remain unchanged, and the music continues to provide a voice for all.
The music became popular during the 60’s in the U.S. and Britain. Now it can be heard in countries where Jamaicans moved after World War II.
Reggae is also associated with the religion of Rastafarianism. Reggae celebrates Jah, which means god, ganga (marijuana) and Ras Tafari, Have ppile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia.
The inclusion of reggae on UNESCO’s list is largely symbolic and it’s believed that it will help raise the profile of Jamaica and its cultural traditions.