Jamaica Today Part 1 – Our Endangered Culture and Tradition
Nowhere else on earth has a culture as dynamic as the one visitors encounter in Jamaica. Its people are a mixture of the many ethnicities that have landed on the island’s shores over the past several centuries. Weathering enslavement and oppression, Jamaicans are survivors, and our past is full of fascinating stories just waiting to be told.
Today, or “nowadays” as we say so often in Jamaica, we have adapted so many other traditions and lifestyles that the strength of our own, at home, has been rapidly declining; maybe the whole “out of many one people” origin has caused us to naturally gravitate to other cultures but our own, or maybe it’s the natural gravitation to something “foreign” as our forefathers gravitated to the first ships that approached their coast lines. Whatever the cause, the effect isn’t entirely a good one. Adapting another’s culture is fine but when it becomes so much that it begins to erode our own, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Our Culture as a people speaks to our core beliefs, contributes to, as well as heavily influences our development, growth and Future. Before we plunge deeper let’s take a look at the terms “Culture” and “Tradition”; Tradition is defined as: a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time and Culture is the beliefs, customs, arts, of particular societies, groups, place, or time.
With that being defined our aforementioned motto speaks more to our diversity rather than to our unity.
Now that we have outlined this let us take an overview of Jamaica’s Culture: In modern times because of existing and sometimes emerging subcultures, globalization, macroeconomic forces, modern technology, easy international travel, migration and a plethora of other internal and external influences, our culture is constantly evolving. But which perceived Jamaican culture is genuine?
The culture manifested on the tourism-oriented north coast is certainly different from our downtown Kingston culture and the impression that the Japanese have of Jamaican culture is very different from the impression that Haitians have. Liberal countries have multiple mini-cultures that continuously change and interweave to produce a dominant hybrid culture.
National culture, is the personality of a nation, and represents the soul of a nation; it sets the tone, pace, limit and direction of our development (or lack thereof). This transition should be directed and not allowed to meander along its own uncertain and potentially negative course. Therefore, perhaps we should establish entrenched policies that actively steer our culture and not just passively monitor, record and facilitate it.
Currently, the Jamaican culture can be described by our unique music, our folklore, customs, language/dialect, cuisine, religion, various kinds of art and, ostensibly, our behavior/conduct. In spite of all that, the real issue here is this question:
After 50 years of Independence, what do people think of first when asked about the Jamaican culture? It doesn’t matter how academics, anthropologists, historians or politicians define ‘culture’, the impression that we leave on others is all that matters.
By Marcellus Allen………….. Read Part 2