We’ve lost because we did not fight for it/them…

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Thinking aloud
Tags: , , ,

We’ve lost hold of our cultures, identity and influence because we did not fight:


I go through an almost weekly assessment of myself and my passions and my fears of the things being lost.  Each time I listen to reggae and its offspring dance-hall I have a conversation in my head about the direction and the loss.  I get particularly guarded and worried when there enters into the arena a new non-Jamaican phenomena or artist affiliated with reggae. You see for me Reggae is to Jamaica as Calypso is to Trinidad and the Bald Eagle and Star-spangled flag/banner is to USA.  So each time I get a video about the newest Japanese dance-hall queen or latest German reggae artist I do a little cringe.  I remember standing in the presence of a Canadian reggae artist who boasting about his tours in Europe highlighted that the bands who backed him in Europe (“full-a white guys”) were so good at and serious about playing reggae that they played better than even Jamaican bands.  Needless to say I almost blew a gasket and so walked away, ’cause I know he could not be for real.  How could he even hope to compare these guys skills to the likes of Steele Pulse, Aswad, Third World, Chalice, Gumption not to mention recent additions such as Raging Fyah etc.

But now in hindsight I must admit he was heralding what is a shift in the culture that I must acknowledge.  No longer is Jamaica the hub for reggae, with the advent of internet and its by-products like Youtube and Twitter etc. our music and cultural art form–Reggae has gone far and wide and in the process I fear has lost its heart.  The reggae I fell in Love with is a revolutionary form even in the hands of dance-hall artists it moves and shifts understandings and platforms.  Yet this form is no longer in our (Jamaicans) control.  We’ve lost it because we did not fight for it… along the way we gave in to the flattery of it spreading globally, we were happy to count the money earned from touring it and we certainly considered it high compliments when others consumed it, copied it and owned it.  I will not argue that these new sounds our appearances don’t sound good or are not palatable. I will however argue that copies are not the same as originals.  We did not fight to keep it as our own, we never sought to control how it was developed or consumed and now we wave farewell to it daily.


So many have been lost over time that I dare not seek to list them.  We lost organizations that once served as advocates and conduits because we did not fight for them. This category is unique because in some instances we lost some organizations because we fought against them.  I cannot express how many times I have sat in on meetings or heard about the downward spiral of community groups where the catalyst for the loss were our own people. There is always the lack of a good board of directors, the absence of a shared vision or direction or worst the lack of interest or extreme apathy among the users or stakeholders.  Sometimes one is forced to wonder if the organization was valued!  For if it were deemed valuable or useful surely we could have mustered up enough energy to salvage it??

Sometimes the fight is also external whether loss of funding due to government cuts (we were too dependent here) or outright campaigns against them whether on ideological, political or racial bias.  Our over-dependent organizations become engulfed by monetary woes sometimes because we did not fight for financial stability or a growth plan.  We sometimes lose because we did not fight to have our voices heard on a political scale, if you assess black organizations in N. America they are riddled with lack; from lack of interest in political wranglings to lack of know how about representation.  While we are on “black”; we sometimes resist the fight for forging our identities amidst the minority motif, we sometimes fail to fight for equality for fear of further pissing off the establishment and then we lose.

We’ve lost because we did not fight…

  1. KevinKevin says:

    As I sit here listening to Steely Dan, I’m reminded that this post could easily speak about hip hop, rock and roll, jazz and the blues. The originals will live on, but the reason much of this music was created in the first place was to fight back against the establishment. Blues is based on African rhythms and tonality. Jazz, rock and reggae are derived from this form and each one of these genres broke barriers, spoke of a struggle, challenged norms and planted the ideas of revolution in the minds of music fans. Even a genre as far-removed as country and western still uses African chord progressions and musical forms that were brought to America in the late 1800s.

    What happened? The spirit of revolution got replaced with security and corporate safety. There was a separation of form and content. Now, white guys play hip hop, reggae, rock, jazz, blues, salsa and samba—all of which are derived from African rhythms and tonalities. Aside form the anti-war protests of the 60s, have any of these musicians galvanized people in a meaningful movement using the form at hand?

    No one can replace the originals. However, I do feel that there is a severe lack of meaningful music being played by anyone. While it’s easy to copy the form, content comes from the heart, from a community and from a genuine struggle to be free.

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