Tag: Tourism

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Jamaica again!

JAMAICA has long been known to be a cultural powerhouse since the days of Bob Marley. It is a small island that impacts culturally on the rest of the world mainly through its music.

I am in this country at the moment enjoying the sweet spirit of the passionate, fun-loving and friendly Jamaican people.

Reggae music was born in Jamaica. That is a known fact, but many subcultures have merged reggae with their own music to create new genres such as Zimdancehall, hip-hop, and reggaeton. Jamaica is also the birthplace of Rastafarian culture.

At the weekend beginning June 1, I was supposed to attend the One World Ska and Rock Steady Music Festival in Sabina Park, Kingston, but the line-up of artistes billed for this festival did not impress me enough to part with my $50. The only group I had heard of before was Toots and The Maytalls. There were artistes such as Delroy Thompson and Ansell Collins whom I had never heard of before. Most of the artistes I wanted to see performing there were abroad entertaining patrons in America and Europe. How I wish I could extend my vacation so that I can watch some of the most talented Jamaican artistes who will descend on Montego Bay next month for the popular Reggae Sumfest.

Montego Bay, affectionately referred to as MoBay by the majority of Jamaicans, hosts thousands of festival goers every year at Reggae Sumfest.

Instead of attending the One World Ska and Rock Steady Music Festival, I spent time with an old friend, Boisie Woolcock, author of the 1970s monster hit I Wonder and a close associate of Bob Marley. Together, after briefly stopping at Sir Jimmy Cliff Bay (yes, the Jamaican government has honoured Jimmy Cliff for all his contributions over the years in promoting Jamaican culture with his music and acting prowess in films such as The Harder They Come), we visited The Bob Marley Museum at 56 Hope Road in Kingston and then The Peter Tosh Museum, both of which gave me a new insight into the lives of the two reggae icons as I saw new memorabilia of their lives.

The Bob Marley Museum has undergone some structural upgrades and renovations to enhance the visitor experience since the last time I visited Jamaica.

Musically, things have also changed in Jamaica. Dancehall seems to be dominating the musical scene everywhere. New tunes such as Chant It by Sevana, Blood Money by Protégé and Humble Mi by Jah 9 seem to be the happening tunes of 2018.

Ten years ago you would hear only Bob Marley tunes such as One Love and Three Little Birds playing all over Jamaica, but today there is a variety of popular tunes such as Chronixx’s Smile Jamaica and from the old school collection songs like Third World’s Try Jah Love.

Woolcock and I straddled past the late Gregory Isaac’s home and he said to me: “You know what, Fred? I was there when Gregory wrote Night Nurse. A lot of people think that song is about a real nurse, but what Gregory had in mind was completely different from the interpretation many people make from the song. Night Nurse is actually cocaine. Gregory used to take it at night and he would sing ‘Only you alone can quench this your thirst. I don’t wanna see no doctor. I need attention from my nurse around the clock’”

“Really?” I said. “I have often thought that I was a genius, but this one, I never worked it out,” I told him.

We moved on to New Kingston’s Courtleigh Auditorium to attend a commemoration concert for the late Sugar Lincoln Minott, who died from a heart problem on July 10, 2010. It was quite revealing. I had known of Sugar Minott from long ago when I collected hundreds of reggae records, but had never considered him among the big Jamaican artistes. So you can imagine my surprise on seeing thousands of reggae lovers in this auditorium remembering their music hero. Apparently Sugar Minott did a lot of work with the youths and other aspiring artistes in Jamaica. He liberated them from the doldrums of poverty through the formation of his Black Roots record label and Youth Promotions Organisation where any talented youngster would come and get assistance in recording their music and having it published and distributed without any payment. Most of these youths would then come to Sugar Minott if their record was doing well to receive their royalties.

I am told that his organisation was responsible for bringing up Jamaican artistes such as Tony Tuff, Barry Brown, Junior Reid, Tenor Saw, Jah Stitch, Captain Sinbad and dozens of others.

Among Sugar Minott’s stand-out cuts were This Old Man, Get Ready Rock Steady, Party Night, Youth of Today, Mysterious Nature and No Cup No Broke.

We moved on to have lunch at Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios, St Ann, a smaller version of our Victoria Falls but attracts over 50 times the number of tourists. Even the legend of Bob Marley comes alive as you walk through his home location in the village of Nine Miles. This is the very house Bob lived in as a young boy and we met so many people, now in their 70s, who knew him as a little boy. Each one had a story to tell. One told me how Bob was great as a footballer and another told me how they shared the same girlfriend and how they fought over her. I also met Lee Perry’s aunt who claimed that her nephew wrote many of the songs Bob recorded. This experience gave me first-hand knowledge of the life and times of the great musician from the people who lived there with him.

A lesson for Zimbabwe’s tourism industry and culture ministry: If you design cultural programmes for the thousands of unemployed youths who are in this country and assist them to develop them, they will feel a sense of responsible citizenship. One or two might rise to be Zimbabwe’s ambassadors in the near future and will do all of us proud as Bob Marley has done for Jamaica.

Do not look down on culture. In Jamaica it is drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists every year and has become the biggest economy booster in that tiny island. We can also do it. Come on now!

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Tourists Flock Jamaica For Sumfest, Says White

Published:Saturday | May 19, 2018 | 

Director of Tourism Donovan White (left) in a jovial mood as he chats with Robert Russell of Summerfest Productions at the launch of Reggae Sumfest 2018 at the Iberostar Suites in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday.

Calling Reggae Sumfest the epitome of Brand Jamaica, Director of Tourism Donovon White says the annual music festival is now one of the main pull factors bringing visitors to Jamaica.

Addressing a roomful of industry players and media personalities at the Iberostar Suites, Montego Bay, leg of the launch of Reggae Sumfest yesterday, White said the event can now easily be compared to “anything we have out there on the world stage”.

“The gains we have seen from staging an event of this magnitude have been phenomenal,” White said.

“Reggae Sumfest is now more than just your traditional show. It represents Jamaica and the Jamaican brand. It is a grand showcase of our music, our great tradition, our people and some of the greatest set of musicians in the world today.”

White, however, said that despite the growth of Sumfest, more has to be done to get Jamaica to enjoy more of the benefits of reggae, “which is on full display in venues across the world”.

“My feeling is that when you see a show in, say, places like Germany that pulls in 50,000-plus patrons for four consecutive nights … to watch a reggae festival without one single Jamaican act on it … it makes you ask the question … where is our music.”

White said that while there is no ready answer to address the concern, “we have to start the conversation as to who is managing our music … . How do we get some benefits from what is our own authentic music?”

“There is a serious ownership structure in the music that belongs to Jamaica,” he further explained. “We have seen reggae evolve from mento, from ska, into rocksteady, into dancehall. This is our music and our legacy. We have to be more involved on the business side.

“If that music is being reproduced in other parts of the world, what is our economic benefit? How do Jamaica and our musicians benefit from that?”

White said that while it’s flattering that reggae is being embraced globally “like never before”, Jamaican artistes have to better position themselves to get into the mainstream where they can be an integral part of the “lucrative market that is out there”.

“We are now past the flattery aspect of things,” he added. “We are now into trying to figure out how we can benefit from what is authentically ours.”

White also said that the Jamaican artistes have a very important role to play when they go on shows overseas, adding that “they are also an important part of brand Jamaica”.

“Our musicians are our ambassadors … . We must never forget that,” he added. “When they go out there on the world stage, they are representing Jamaica. They should also understand that music is a very powerful forum that they can use to spread a positive message … something that Sumfest has been doing for the past 25 years.”

The festival, which will be staged in the tourism capital from July 15 to 22, will see performances on the main nights from the likes of Beres Hammond, Damion ‘Junior Gong’ Marley, Capleton, Baby Cham, Spice, Popcaan and Tommy Lee.

The reggae festival kicks off with a beach party tagged Colourfest at Tropical Bliss. The event culminates at Catherine Hall Complex on Friday, July 20, and Saturday July 21st, climaxing with the Sumfest Morning Medz Tailgate at the Dump Up Beach.

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