Monday 21 October, 2019

Grange 'moved to tears' after reggae got global recognition at UNESCO

Olivia Grange (file photo)

Olivia Grange (file photo)

Olivia Grange, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, was reportedly moved to tears on Thursday after reggae music was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Grange, who is a member of the committee that decided on the matter, has been in Mauritius since Monday to ensure the inscription took place.

The decision was made at the 13th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Mauritius, following a strong lobby and advocacy by the Government of Jamaica, led by Grange.

She acknowledged the announcement and the support which Jamaica’s nomination received from more than 190 state parties in attendance at the meeting.

“It shows the popularity of reggae music across the world and the captivating influence of the Jamaican art form,” said Grange.

According to a statement from her ministry, the UNESCO evaluation body had recommended that Jamaica’s nomination be deferred to the next round in two years, which was resisted.

“We were not willing to accept that, and decided to journey to Mauritius to defend our position. After making our case to the delegates, the overwhelming sentiment was that it would be a travesty if our nomination was not accepted. That gave us supreme confidence,” Grange noted. 

When the Jamaica file was introduced on the floor, all 23 members of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee expressed their support and asked the Jamaican delegation to take the floor to clarify the concerns raised by the evaluation body. Jamaica then made its presentation, the delegates showed their support, and the room erupted in jubilation. 

Grange thanked the delegates for their support, and led the meeting in singing Bob Marley’s iconic song, ‘One Love’, in celebration at the historic inscription.

The culture minister said the inscription was the result of “a real team effort involving members of the Jamaican music fraternity, including music icon Chris Blackwell and the team at Universal Music; Cedella Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation, which gave permission for the use of Marley’s music and image; the team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; and the team at the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and its agencies, particularly those at the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO and the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica."

In expressing appreciation for the inscription, Grange said: “Jamaicans have long recognised that reggae music means so much to so many across the world. This inscription will invariably bring even more visibility to UNESCO’S Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and intangible cultural heritage as a whole, and it demonstrates reggae’s global impact.”

Reggae has become the second Jamaican ‘element’ to be inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, following the addition of the Maroon Heritage of Moore Town in 2008.

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