History and Culture of Jamaica

Topics: Rastafari movement, Reggae, Bob Marley Pages: 21 (7562 words) Published: August 30, 2008

Jamaica is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas after the United States and Canada. Although a small island in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is a melting pot of cultures from all around the world. From the beggining, the island was inhabited by ancient tribes with different coustoms, beliefs and backrounds. Since Columbus discovered the island in 1494 nothing remained the same, the Spanish colonists assumed control of the island and forced most of it’s native inhabitants in to slavery. Due to slavery , disease and war the aboriginal people were exterminated in about two hundred years .The Spanish conquistadors had no interest in converting the natives to Christianity ,like they did with the Aztecs or the Mayans in south America, so they literally worked the Tainos to death. Bit by bit they were replaced by African slaves from which the modern black population descends from. The Spanish rule lasted until 1655 ,when the English seized the island after many years of pirate attacks, even though they where recognized as rulers of the island only in 1670 through the Treaty of Madrid. Slavery was abolished by the English only in 1834 after hundreds of thousands slaves died on the sugar cane plantations. Jamaiaca remained an English posesion until 1962 when independence but remained part of the English Commonwealth. I find Jamaica interesting not only for it’s history but especially for it’s culture. Jamaican culture, at least its music, has , over the years sprung different music genres ,music trends and artists. Jamaica is the birthplace of genres like ska , dub and reggae and in recent years dancehall or jungle. Not even the English language remained unchanged in Jamaica , most of the population speak Patwah or Patois, which is a mixture between American English, British English ,French and African dialects. Adapting the English language gave birth to a new dialect that has transformed a sentence like: ”The children are making to much noise” into “Di pickney, dem a mek too much nize” or “Those boys are hungry, you should give them something to eat” into “Den de bwoy dem belly a yawn,yu a fi gi dem sintin fi heat”. Jamaicans have their own take on Christianity, the island being the birthplace of a philosophical and religious movement called Rastafarianism, a religious cult that accepts the former emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I as God incarnate, to whom they refer as Jah. One of the most visited islands in the Caribbean Jamaica isn’t just sun, sand and palm tries ,it’s people, it’s culture and it’s history have something special to offer to anyone who’s interested in human cultures, human habits and beliefs. Jamaica’s motto: ”Out of many, one people” speeks greatily about the cultural and racial diversity of the island, who over the years come to incorporate all the different customs of it’s inhabitants in to the national culture heritage. These next pages will show that, from a cultural point of view, Jamaica is one of the richest countries in the world.

Early history

Jamaica’s ancient history is one of tribal colonization from south America from where different tribes arrived on canoes between 5000 BC and 900. The first people to colonize Jamaica were the Guanahatabey, a tribe of Amerindians who arrived on the island somewhere between 5000 B.C. and 4000 B.C and came from the Yucatan Peninsula. They were cave dwelling people,who used basic tools for fishing and gathering. They were peaceful people who lived in very small groups, without interacting with the outside world. Not very much is known about them and their culture, due to their primitive social and intellectual status. The next wave of Amerindian tribes who came on the island, were the Saladoid or Igneris that arrived in 300 A.D. They came from the Orinoco region in Venezuela and were the first Arawakans to arrive in Jamaica. They, unlike the Guanahatabey had a form of social organization and...
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