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Ahmad makes case for reggae

Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

BRITISH High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asif Ahmad has issued a charge to the local music fraternity to develop the valuable reggae music tradition that is steeped in the cultural fabric.

The diplomat, who brought greetings via a video presentation at the inaugural Jamaica Observer Entertainment Awards held yesterday at the newspaper's headquarters in St Andrew, said the fact that Jamaica has given the world a popular music genre is something to be celebrated.

He shared that despite not being Jamaican and rooted in the history of the country and its music, he can definitely appreciate the music, which he said is not just music, but rather spiritual and speaks volumes for humanity at every level of their existence.

“Just a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting Chronixx here in the British High Commission, and we talked about the future of reggae, because we just can't rely on the past, there has to be a reggae that speaks to the next generation, the next 50 years,” said Ahmad.

“This is your treasure and you have to develop it, but it is also a global treasure so don't feel bad that you have singers who are copying the reggae tradition. UB40 did it. This is not cultural appropriation, this is cultural influence and the brand Jamaica is carried by Jamaican throughout the world,” he continued.

Despite this rich tradition, Ahmad said the live form of the music is at the brink of being lost here in Jamaica due to the lack of such events.

“Since I've been here in Kingston, my passion for this genre of music has not always been met. It's very rare that you hear live reggae music. Yes, there are reggae festivals and for tourists in the big hotels there is a form of reggae, but the essence of creation of the music... the lyrics, the poetry, the rhythm that goes with that music, all of this has to be revived and cherished again. The best way to do this is to look at the opportunities that exist. People are talking about Port Royal developing, but why don't we have music cafés? People are talking about food and other places of entertainment, but why cant we have squares, food courts with a platform where musicians can perform?”

In this regard, the British High Commissioner called on the powers that be to assist the music and entertainment community, so that this form of the music can be preserved for succeeding generations.

“Musicians here in Jamaica cannot just be left to strive alone. They need support, not just here in Kingston, but every town, village and parish throughout the country to take this great music to new listeners, to the next generation. My hope is that Jamaican musicians as well as the production houses of the UK, the technology and the distributors can come together and take a new generation of performers to the world so that this music and its soul will live on forever,” Ahmad stated.