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Bob Marley at a concert in Santa Barbara, Carlifonia, USA, 1979. Perhaps no other reggae musician has had such a profound impact on how we see the world and our place in it as Marley, who died on 11 May 1981. He infused powerful social messages – of unity and strength in the face of oppression – in his music / Photo: Screenshot/ Youtube/Bob Marley - The Legend Live

Reggae added to UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List

The UN cultural agency has recognised reggae as an intangible cultural heritage worth protecting for its “contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual”.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognised reggae music as a cultural treasure that should be protected, the BBC reported on Thursday (29 December).

Reggae is a genre of music made more popular by artistes such as Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals and Peter Tosh.

Each year, UNESCO adds to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and Jamaica submitted reggae for consideration earlier this year. The genre now joins a list of over 300 cultural traditions, including numerous musical ones such as Dominican merengue, Slovakian bagpipe music and Vietnamese xoan singing.

To mark its inclusion on the list, UNESCO shared a short documentary that examines the history and distinct characteristics of reggae music:

 

In a statement on its website, UNESCO said of reggae, “Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual. The basic social functions of the music – as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God – have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all.”

Jamaica is hoping to further protect and preserve the music in various ways. Among the plans are radio stations centered around reggae, as well as public exhibitions in museums and Reggae Month, which will take place in February, the birth month of Bob Marley.

READ ALSO Remembering Bob Marley, 35 Years On

To mark its inclusion on the list, UNESCO shared a short documentary that examines the history and distinct characteristics of reggae music.

Reggae music is an expressive art form in the African entertainment scene and artistes such as the Alpha Blondy, Pax Nindi aka Harare Dread, Majek Fashek, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Colbert Mukwevho, Ismael Isaac, Avhapfani Sadiki aka Radical Dread, Jambo, Soul Raiders, Lucky Dube+ and Ras Kimono+, have tapped into its style to create timeless music.

Felix Dappa

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