Reggae is inextricably linked with Jamaican culture, and now that special connection may become official. The country has asked UNESCO to accord reggae a special designation: a spot on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. The list’s purpose is to call attention to the importance of preserving intangible practices and heritages around the world.
Reggae has been hugely popular in Jamaica since the 1960s. It centers around a celebration of “Jah” or “God,” marijuana, and Ras Tafari, a former Ethiopian emperor who Rastafarians hail as their messiah. Reggae music, often considered to be therapeutic, inspired several other musical genres, including dancehall, reggaeton, and reggae fusion. It has also been an important influence on hip-hop.
UNESCO will announce on Monday whether reggae will be awarded this designation. Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s culture minister, said that “It will be a major achievement for Jamaica if we are successful in having the designation declared by UNESCO.” There are currently 470 cultural elements on the list from 117 countries, and UNESCO is determining this year’s additions from Monday, November 26th through December 1st.