Jonkonnu in Jamaica. a Dying Tradition or a Vibrant Practice

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Jonkonnu in Jamaica. a Dying Tradition or a Vibrant Practice

By | April 2011
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Jonkonnu in Jamaica. A dying tradition or a vibrant practice.

According to Pamela and Martin Mordecai, they opined that culture is referred to “whatever traditions, beliefs, customs, and creative activities characterize a given community.” Every group has its own specific culture, its own way of seeing, doing and making its own traditions. Jonkunnu is a Jamaican traditional dance of African origin. Cheryl Ryman postulated that Jonkonnu linked music and dance, mime and symbols as the earliest traditional dance form of African descent. It is performed at Christmas time and a strong feature of the dance is the all male characters whose movements match their roles. The music is distinct with its fife and drum that has survived in Jamaica but has Jonkonnu become a vibrant practice or dying tradition? This paper will seek to analyze this. Cheryl Ryman wrote that Jonkonnu richly illustrated both the historical and social realities of Jamaica and provided a model for examining several old world traditions and new world phenomena. Reflecting on Jamaica’s colonial history, according to E. Noble the British in 1660 seized control from the Spanish and established a colonial outpost there. Some slaves had already lived on the island and in the late seventeenth century, the English colonists began to import more slaves from West Africa in great numbers to work on the sugar plantations. The English colonists brought many cultural traditions with them to Jamaica which included the celebration of Christmas with music, dance and masquerade. The African slaves retained their own music, dance and masquerade traditions which were utilized as an outlet against their oppressive state. The evolution of Jonkonuu is reflected in the creolization process in Jamaica, emerging from African and European cultural expressions. These two cultural streams flowed together in Jamaica celebrations gave rise to Jonkonnu. In Jamaica, Jonkonnu is the oldest recorded...
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