Jamaica Culture Understanding
Culture can be defined as the customs, achievements, beliefs, speech and mannerisms of a particular civilization or group. Culture is everything that is learnt by man. The Jamaica culture is shaped by our relationship with our history and environment, this means, that no culture is better or worse than any other, but each society has a unique culture.
The major components of culture are knowledge, language and beliefs. Jamaica culture is an experience that is derived from the vibrancy of our rich heritage from our ancestors and the warmth of the people. The Jamaican motto is “Out of Many, One People”, which reflects the great mix of food, music, history and customs from our ancestors.
The early settlers to Jamaica from the original Tainos to the British, they all contributed richly, but is was the slaves and the blacks who became a force as Jamaica culture was dominated by their rich culture with all the suffering and resisting of hard labor that was forced on them.
Jamaican folklore in our culture can be seen through, the stories, songs, dances and practices which give emotional support and a sense of belonging and acceptance to the people of the community. The story telling is derived from the slaves who would gather at nights outdoors to sing, dance, play games, tell Anancy stories and guess the answer the riddles. Proverbs would also be part of their daily interaction with each other.
The Jamaican folk songs is enjoyed in the form of the ceremonial or religious with strong African retention – revival, recreational or social songs and work or digging songs. The social or recreational songs is a rich blend of African and British cultures and the work or digging songs were enjoyed by the slaves who blend the rhythm of work to ease boredom and tediousness while they work.
The Jamaica culture has dance forms that are very vibrant in the folk culture and include forms that were inherited from the ancestors. Just to explain a few, we have the funerary rituals such as dinki minni, which adds color and spirituality of revival – the first afro-Jamaican religion, the excitement of the African jonkunnu masquerade which is celebrated at Christmas and independence; East Indian Tadjah of Hosay and the dragon dance welcoming the Chinese new year, traditional Christian forms and other expressions such as quadrille, maypole from our European ancestors.
Religion also is a big aspect of the Jamaican culture, the major one which controls about seventy-five percent of the culture is Christianity. The Rastafarian movement is practiced widely also and rose to prominence because of elements that was articulated through our reggae music in the 70’s and early 80’s by Bob Marley. There are other religions such as Muslims, Baha’i faith, Hindus and also Jews.
Music also plays a strong part in the Jamaican culture, deriving from African and European forms to the Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Dancehall. The Jamaican music is well received by persons worldwide and gains international fame from persons such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff and more recently Dancehall Dj’s.
Jamaican culture is also rich in sporting activities and persons have excelled in different areas over the years in events such as at the Olympics. The more popular sports are athletics, football, cricket, golf, horse and bicycle racing, boxing and others..