Jamaica: Culture and History

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Jamaica: Culture and History
Whenever there is the mention of Jamaican Culture these days, people's thoughts seem to turn to Reggae music. Reggae is a refined beat of different music styles, which preceded it. There was a musical form, which was a fusion of calypso and the Cuban rhythm that originated around the turn of the twentieth century and lasted about fifty years. Ska had a very short life span with its beat, which was quicker than the Reggae beat, and its base was not as distinctive. Reggae was pushed by groups such as Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley and Bunny of the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, John Holt, Byron Lee and Culture just to mention a few. There are a number of Reggae tunes that convey political, social and religious messages. Some of these messages can be deemed to be revelation knowledge, but it seems as though the majority of people are interested in the beat of the music. It is widely accepted that Robert Nesta Marley, (Bob Marley) has sparked world consciousness by being both a great lyricist and one who has awakened a number of people with reference to racism, oppression and injustice all over the world. Some of these songs have expressions of praise of Jah (God). Another aspect of Jamaican culture can be traced back to the Arawak Indians who came to Jamaica around 700 A.D. They etched petroglyphs on ceilings and walls of caverns throughout the island. Today Jamaica, and in particular both Kingston and Ocho Rios are the center of Caribbean art. The wife of the first prime minister of Jamaica, Edna Marley was one of the first people to place a different view of art, different from the European standards set. She was instrumental in encouraging and promoting local artists, and she herself was an eminent sculptress. English is the official language of Jamaica, but Jamaicans have also developed a dialect, which is a combination of African, Portuguese and Spanish terms, are peppered with Rastafarian slang. The majority of the patois...
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