Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced yesterday that Jamaicans, will for the first time this year observe the month of February as ‘Reggae Month’ to highlight the impact of the musical genre on the country’s social, cultural and economic development. The Prime Minister also announced that he had written to Governor-General Sir Kenneth Hall requesting him to issue an official proclamation declaring February Reggae Month in perpetuity.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding who spoke at a Press Launch at Jamaica House hosted by the Minister of Information & Culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, said a month of activity was necessary in order to sharpen the focus and draw the attention of the world to this powerful asset that is wholly Jamaican.
Mr. Golding said in addition to being a part of our culture, reggae music has been used by Jamaicans as a means of expression and to communicate our experiences, trials and successes, as well as our joys and sorrows. He said the music has also been used to declare our position against oppression and suffering and to tell of our hopes, with the love as the underlying constant. He said this aspect of the music was the reason it had been embraced by people from around the world, but that Jamaicans felt no jealousy as, “reggae will always remain Jamaica and Jamaica will always remain reggae.”
He said it was also important for Jamaicans especially the youth to understand the power of the music, as they did not watch it grow through its many stages. Various methods will be used to analyze and celebrate the music during the month of February including music showcases, film screenings and academic conferences. “All sorts of means will be used to examine it, to study it, to look at its history and in that process, help to guide its future development,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister cautioned that while the music can be seen as an instrument of advancement, if not used properly it could also become a lethal weapon which, instead of uplifting our people, is used to disparage women and undermine the value system that the country wants to support and institutionalize. He said it was therefore important to establish a framework that will guide the future development of the music and ensure that it can remain powerful even a hundred years from now.
Reggae Month will be used to consolidate a series of events into a passionate movement in order to give full recognition to the music as a cultural capital. The month of celebrations will also assert Jamaica’s authority on the music so there can be no ambiguity of its origin. Mr. Golding said the month will also be used to plant the seeds for a nation branding project to firmly establish Brand Jamaica. This year’s activities will also be used as a stepping stone for next year’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of reggae music.
Prime Minister Golding said he welcomed the opportunity to recognize the contribution of the music to Jamaica as well as that of the many musicians and promoters especially the pioneers who never gave up even when it did not enjoy widespread acclaim. He said the government would be in dialogue with representatives of the industry to see what kind of support it could give to create more opportunities for new artistes.
There will be a full calendar of activities to mark Reggae Month starting with the Bob Marley Birthday Dinner on February 6th, the UWI Global Reggae Conference, a Reggae Film Festival and a football match between the Reggae Boyz and Costa Rica, a star-studded Reggae Academy Awards honouring outstanding music industry personalities and the “Africa Unite – Smile Jamaica” concert being hosted by Rita Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation.