Kingston: a city of culture

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 24, 2019

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Jamaica's capital city Kingston is again to come in for some more recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

On the heels of reggae been granted an inscription and recognition as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity; and the naming of Kingston as a creative city of music; the international body is again focussing on Kingston in its sustainable cities pilot project. This programme will seek to collect data on the preservation of culture in the city and creating an inventory on how communities, ordinary citizens document this intangible cultural heritage in the urban context.

Kingston along with Harare, Zimbabwe and Georgetown, the multicultural capital of the Malaysian island of Penang, are the three cities which have been selected for this project.

According to director of culture in the Ministry of Gender, Entertainment, Culture and Sport, Gillian McDaniel, Kingston in particular and Jamaica in general, factors highly on UNESCO's radar to the prominence of the country and its culture globally. Therefore it is not surprising that the country has been chosen for this programme.

“What we will be doing is looking at how persons in these communities have worked at preserving our heritage and culture for future generations, as well as the multiplier effect that culture has had on these communities in the development of cottage industries, for example, to create a level of sustainability and economic viability. Jamaica is certainly highly favoured within the UNESCO family. This can be seen in the fact that the director general is scheduled to visit in the coming weeks, plus reggae has such a visibility as the voice of the voiceless and disenfranchised that we have certainly spoken for ourselves over the years.”

The six-month long project is set to commence shortly and will be conducted in Trench Town and one other community which will be decided shortly.

Originally, McDaniel explained that the August Town community was cited as the ideal incubator for this project, but the volatility of the area prone to violent outbursts has ruled it out.

“We were really excited about looking at the August Town community. We saw that area as being able to provides us with such a wealth of data due to the proliferation of cultural activities which have their root there. August town is known for a strong Rastafari community, music, and is also a strong seat for Revivalism being the home of Alexander Bedward, who was one of the chief proponents of the religious form. However, we had to decide against it as the safety of the field workers was of primary concern and so we had to reconsider,” McDaniel explained to the Jamaica Observer.

The data collected will form part of a catalogue which will be share globally and the lessons and experiences from these three cities will be shared and replicated with other countries, cities and communities seeking to use cultural heritage as a means of creating sustainability and economic development.


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