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The Jamaican Culture

There is not other place in the world where one can find a culture as vibrant as that of the Jamaica. The people in this island are a fusion of different ethnicities who have settled here for over a hundred years. Withstanding dependence and repression, its people are considered survivors, and their history is filled with interesting accounts that are so much worthy of a second glance. Jamaica is an island nation in the West Indies. Jamaica lies about 480 miles (772 kilometers) south of Florida and is the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea (Stolzoff 2000). Only Cuba and Hispaniola are larger.

Arawak Indians, who were the first people to live in Jamaica, named the island Xaymaca, which means island of springs (Stolzoff, 2000). Jamaica’s pleasant climate and its beautiful beaches and mountains attract more than 700,000 tourists yearly but the Jamaican economy does not depend chiefly on tourism. Jamaica is among the world’s leading producers of bauxite, the ore from which aluminum is made. The island also produces bananas, sugar and various manufactured goods. About 40 per cent of Jamaica’s people live in rural areas, but many have moved to the cities since the early 1960s (Stolzoff, 2000).

Kingston is the capital, the largest city, and chief port. Jamaica was a British colony for about 300 years, until 1962 (Stolzoff, 2000). It is an independent nation within the Commonwealth of Nations. The government of Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy. The prime minister, who leas the majority party in Parliament, is the chief executive. Cabinet members head the ministries (executive departments) of the government. The British monarch appoints the governor general of Jamaica. The governor general represents the monarch but has few governing powers.

Given that they are offspring or not of the settlers or recent Middle Eastern migrants, citizens of all races reside and toil together in this country. Civilizations have been fused in this part of the world over the centuries. Furthermore at the same time as this fusion enthuse delight, it is also the basis of its people’s naturally strident repartee that sometimes appears to be out of place for an outsider. The Taino, who settled in Jamaica earlier than its European discovery, even lingered a cultural legacy (Segisys, 2008).

Every race that has played a part in the island’s effervescent past carried with them the way of life as well as the customs of their homelands. The island’s culture nowadays is a pristine fabric that is exclusively woven using such traditions that it has effortlessly integrated in its civilization (JamaicanTasteBuds. com, 2008). The culture of the island is one that is quite varied, cleanly for the reason that it has been settled by more than a few diverse assemblages of people as time passed by. Initially, Jamaica has the Arawak tribe as its early settlers (Champigny, 2008).

Today, this tribe is known as the Tianos (Champigny, 2008). When Christopher Columbus discovered the island, it was preserved for Spain and as expected the culture of its conqueror was born and made known in the whole of Jamaica (Champigny, 2008). Since tourism is a chief industry in the island, the guest is finely accommodated, and is welcomed by gracious and competent staff. Music as well as the traditions of Africa is especially visible. Other influences that prevail in the island are that of old British colonialism. Majority of its people are eager to communicate about topics usually dismissed as uncomfortable.

It is usual to find people of various ethnic backgrounds in this island. More so, its inhabitants are at ease with their apparent ethnic diversity for they are aware that this is but an element that gives their culture it identifying mark. Theirs is the culture that may be appropriately depicted as the Jamaican individual experience contained by various facets of day to day activities that recount the custom uniquely their own. Their culture may be categorized into various segments, generally referred to as the facets of their culture (Get Jamaica.

com, 2008). The culture of the island is defined as the foundation of its whole citizenry. It is varied as majority of the people is culturally diverse. There are numerous states and civilizations, mostly from China, India and Africa (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). Those from Europe comprise the minority (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). There is even a North American group however they did not supply the foundation and convention of the island’s culture (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). The island’s way of life assists in depicting the customs of its culture.

Its customs are ritualistic behaviors that are performed over the particular time frame of a certain event. It is very rampant in the island’s culture and is essential in describing its traditions. The island’s well – known customs are generally performed during holidays (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). Language is another means by which the island may be able to illustrate its diverse culture. While the island’s has English as its official language, a lot of of its locals converse using their personal linguistic fashion. Almost every village has a linguistic style of their own.

Among the essential ingredients of the island’s language include English, Spanish, African, American, British, and, Rastafarian (Segisys, 2008). Jamaica’s language can also trace its foundation in slavery. The slaves created means where they may be able to integrate the language of their masters with that of their native speeches (Segisys, 2008). Cuisine is considered to be an essential facet of the island’s cultural identity. Jamaican foods as well as its recipes enrich its culture. The food found in the island is of exceptional taste. After all, its cuisine sets it apart from all the rest.

The island’s culture is splendidly savored by the food it offers. The flavors of the Caribbean permitted Jamaica’s kitchen to produce one of the most remarkable fusions of international spices. “Jerk” is the most familiar food in the Jamaican menu (Segisys, 2008). It is a marinade that may be incorporated in almost any food though it is usually mixed with meat (Segisys, 2008). The spicy jerk consists of the island’s local flavors. The island also has a substantial supply of seafood. Nevertheless, its most authentic dishes are soup with the head of the goat and stew flavored with the cow’s foot (Segisys, 2008).

The island also takes pleasure in its creative style. Its art is influenced by its own customs as well as that of other civilizations. Nonetheless, Jamaican artists have developed one that is their and theirs alone. It has given birth to renowned artists like Albert Huie, Edna Manley, and, Kapo, to name a few (Segisys, 2008). Certainly, Jamaicans are identified for their enthusiasm when it comes to dancing. Jamaican dance forms blend the approach of African as well as Europeans to create a distinctive appearance. Fresh dances appear regularly, however older techniques still are the foundation of innovative moves.

Dance halls are the greatest places to witness innovative moves, however the conventional dances are maintained by institutions (Segisys, 2008). Certainly, if music exists, dancers will come with it. The well – known music in the island is reggae. It is characterized by a music that is quite easy to get pleasure from and it has garnered huge recognition the world over. Majority of reggae artists have been catapulted to worldwide popularity. The fame of reggae keeps on until this very moment. A reggae variety, called “dancehall,” is growing to be famous too (Segisys, 2008).

Reggae may be the most popular kind of music but there are a lot more in existence. The folk music of this island has come from various sources as time went by. The most important influence came from Africa, in commemoration of birth, yielding and even death (Segisys, 2008). Nonetheless, the various kinds of music executed these days fall into work, spiritual, entertainment, and, dance categories. Dance sounds are the most familiar kind in the whole of Jamaica. It is executed with conventional dances to commemorate significant events as well as holidays.

On this event, the performers and the clothes they wear are as significant as the music that goes with it (Segisys, 2008). Music has also traditionally been executed at both at the workplace and the entertainment scenes. Work music is a facet of the culture that traces its foundation in the history of slavery, at a time when music where employed to convey messages and gossip, although they have also aided in relieving the labor of these people. This kind of music traces a conventional African call and reply scheme (Segisys, 2008).

Nevertheless, people also sing songs during games, and the youth usually form circles to sing the games they play and to clap their hands (Segisys, 2008). Games are usually rather physically challenging, so instruments are not commonly employed in these case (Segisys, 2008). The island resounds to the soul enthralling music of reggae, calypso and soca (JamaicanTasteBuds. com, 2008). Music in this island may be heard at any place at almost any given time. Even while the island’s music is ageless, reggae, which is considered to be its utmost export to the world is a type of music which has a rather concise past.

What is conceived to be reggae music today is in reality not older than rock and roll, though its progress draws as far back as centuries ago (JamaicanTasteBuds. com, 2008). In addition, it integrates many similar influences that facilitated the molding of rock as it is known today. Ska was espoused by the underprivileged and cast out. They eventually turned to the expressive bang of reggae as well as the opinionated, communal, and, spiritual messages filled with metaphor, words of rage, and, honor of Jah or God (JamaicanTasteBuds. com, 2008).

Reggae is linked to none other than Bob Marley (JamaicanTasteBuds. com, 2008). He facilitated in generating awareness by means of being not just a musical celebrity but also a steady voice in opposition to racial discrimination, repression, and, prejudice (JamaicanTasteBuds. com, 2008). Other melodic forms that are rising in recognition in Jamaica are ska, rocksteady and even jazz (Segisys, 2008). Classical music does not receive the same appreciation given to other music genres in this island (Segisys, 2008). Nevertheless, spiritual songs are also well – recognized.

Calypso and soca are being espoused by the locals too (Segisys, 2008). Without a doubt, this island has so much to brag about. Leaving this island allows its visitor to take home the rich culture it has generously allowed its guest to experience. One more clear sign and mingling facet of this island’s civilization is the subject of religion. It has even created a distinctive form of religion. The primary kind goes by the name Pocomania (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). It is a fusion between the spiritual custom of Africa and Christianity of the Old World (Get Jamaica. com, 2008).

Rastafarianism comes second (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). This faith is basically from a small group of people in the country, therefore is not actually a unifying facet. Nonetheless, it provides for its people their individuality. It is certainly worthy of citation (Get Jamiaca. com, 2008). Spiritual music has been predisposed to a variety of minor religions accepted in Jamaica. Rastafaru, Kumina and Pocomania are among the most universal (Segisys, 2008). Such songs usually go together with chants and drums. They may even consist of singing as well as supplementary melodic accompaniments.

These songs are commonly heard during vigils and other like services (Segisys, 2008). The art and clothing characteristic of the island are considered some of it vital and definitive traits. Its art has paced in illustrating its day to day activities. It has made itself apparent in various art forms. This is a straight move from the more conceptual form of European art and the generally melancholic forms that is characteristic of African art that concentrates mainly on its past (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). Its culture, for the most part does not dwell so much on its past.

Nevertheless, the clothes Jamaican people wear do resemble their traditions. Even though it is not familiar in other shores unlike its African and European counterparts, it is depicted by the employment of primary colors and the fashionable utilization of cotton due to the climate in the island (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). The folklore is thus far fittingly regarded to be an element of the Jamaican culture. It can often be cited as an element of the island’s tradition, though. These are tales and ballads that are handed down from generations to generation.

Nonetheless, this is not exactly the case in point although folklore and events are passed on through dance and theater which are categorized under other art forms and are thus another keystone of culture (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). For the most part the culture of the island is portrayed in dance. It narrates accounts concerning the island’s past. It conveys it message by means of this art form. The island’s language is described as patois (Get Jamaica. com, 2008). The clear accent of its people resembles its culture. There is one more essential facet of the culture and arts while the language brings in not just art but music too.

The Diaspora of the island has brought its culture the world over. It is said that at least a single Jamaican resides in each state around the globe. It is an commendable achievement and a great advantage to the island’s culture and civilization (Get Jamaica. com NP). These days it is the influence of the Africans which is very much felt in the country. Those who live in the island are direct offspring of the ones who settled in the country through the past years. These people mostly hailed from the slaves of ages past.


Champigny, Teri. Jamaica – Travel – 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2008, from http://www. jamaica-travel-tips. com/the-jamaican-culture. html. Get Jamaica. Com. 2008. Jamaican Culture and Jamaican Traditions. Retrieved April 28, 2008, from http://www. getjamaica. com/Jamaican%20Culture. asp. JamaicanTasteBuds. com. 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2008, from http://www. jamaicantastebuds. com/culture-. html. Segisys. 2008. Ethnic Stew. Retrieved April 28, 2008, from http://jamaica- guide. info/past. and. present/culture/. Stolzoff, N. C. (2000). Wake the Town & Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica.

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