The United Nations’ cultural agency, Unesco, has inscripted reggae—a uniquely Jamaican musical tradition—into its collection of important cultural practices around the world. Reggae, which first emerged in the 1960s, has since become among Jamaica’s greatest cultural exports and an international musical language.
“While in its embryonic state Reggae music was the voice of the marginalized, the music is now played and embraced by a wide cross-section of society, including various genders, ethnic, and religious groups. Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual, and spiritual,” reads a UN statement. “The basic social functions of the music—as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, a means of praising God—have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all.”