Culture: Its significance to me.

Ever heard the sayingYou have to know where you come from to understand where you are going” ? Culture more appropriately defined is the way of life of a group of people .  It includes our values, beliefs, customs, languages and traditions. It is reflected in our history, in our heritage and in how we express ideas and creativity. This culture, my Jamaican culture, has been shaped primarily by influence from the European (British, Spanish, and French) and African (Taino inhabitants) customs and tradition. As migration becomes and inevitable factor across the world, we are able to see its influence from the  Indian and Chinese culture, and in most recent times  our neighbour , the ‘Great United Sates of America. We can all agree , culture changes based on our own individual socialization and migration, but what is permanent , is the our origin, our starting point. Understanding this is the foundation for understanding society and socialization. Culture is the root of all our personal idenitiy, establishing our moral, value, tradition, culture . In undestanding `our past it allows us to understand effectively the process of communication and set the benchmark for our values, attidues and contributions .

Jamaican culture has been has been dominated by the British model, for the most part. Where our inhabitants were forced to find their own identity. Their expressions came in the form of music , religion, language  and dance. The desire to find a commonality between who they were led to the culmination of our culture. The oppression felt through slavery led to rebellion from what was being instilled , though inevitably accents of European culture where still adopted, social graces, mannerisms , and the other qualities which they(our ancestors) admired  . The importance of this  served as a reminder of where I came . A reminder that I too am worthy of rising out of oppression, a reminder that as people we are all connected, all one, with a common objective. When I listen to stories of the Nanny of the Maroon, Paul Bogle rebellion, I feel connected , I feel inspired in my pursuit of life. I often wonder if we didn’t rebel; if we had chosen to be complacent, accept oppression, What type of nation would we be? Would we have had as many leaders making global impact? This identify fosters growth, confidence, and a deeper understanding of who we are as social beings.

Communication ideally is a two way process of reaching a mutual understanding in which messages are encoded and decoded. The communication process with an eighty year old Jamaican woman living in rural Jamaica  will be different than communication with a 20 year old living in the city of Kingston. Their individual morals, attitudes and values will differ. Understanding the roots of this communication, the intention behind every sentence is key.  With each  expression  , we are able to identify pigments of our culture, culture of the past,  the new and emerging culture. The co-relation is essential. “If you stand for you nothing , you will fall for anything. “ We’ve established that culture is always changing, it does not remain constant. Hence, knowing what to accept or reject comes deeply from how we’ve been socialized within our immediate environments . What we hold to be true is set by our culture. Just imagine if there wasn’t a cultural development commission aimed at promotion and education of culture, Jamaican culture in itself would be next to non exist. The core of who we are as a people, out of many one people, out of oppression would be replaced with new and adopted forms of attitudes , morals and behaviour. Our culture sets a benchmark of understanding , allowing us to choose what to embrace, and what to adopt and how to contribute further within society. When we enter the global sphere , mass amounts of  messages are communicated through media and technology. This can serve as a threat to our culture s much as it can serve as a means of enhancement. When you are able to establish firmly what is true to you, you’ll stand up for what you believe in an empowering way . Just as Bob Marley did for Racial oppression and Miss Lou did for our Jamaican ‘national language’ As a nation we are fighters, believers and conquerors and culture serves as a indication of that as the past will always continue to influence our future.

The Jamaican flag beautifully depicts the spirit of our people shaped by our culture.

stock-footage-jamaican-flag-with-real-structure-of-a-fabric

 “Hardships there are but the land is green and the sun shineth”:

Black represents the strength and creativity of the people which has allowed them to overcome the odds.

Yellow symbolises the golden sunshine.

Green represents our lush vegetation and agricultural resources.

One Love,

Kimberly<3

Jamaica: The land of my birth!

When I hear her name my heart instantly skips a beat. My heart  skips a beat because it is the sweetest name I’ve ever heard, it has a very common tune that only my heart  understands. I cry when she cries and rejoice when she does. The land of wood and water they say, but I like to think there is more beneath the surface. Jamaica is simply an island  with rich  history, love , strong culture and a uniqueness making this beautiful island the queen of many hearts. Her motto is “ Out of Many One people” ; her children come from many different ancestries making Jamaicans one of the most diverse people in the world.  The the last four letters in  “ Jamaican” spells I- C-A-N , I guess this explains why we are such confident beings.  The world would be a better place if we all chose to adopt the principle of believing we can achieve anything. She is the lover of all , she loves unconditionally and forgives easily. She breeds only leaders with the potential for greatness. She is the greatest mother, with history as rich as the coffee she produces, nature sites as  beautiful as the sound of her name, uniqueness such that her children stand out wherever they may go. Her love is as wide as the ocean but you’ll probably swim in the tears she cries.  We all have a responsibility as Jamaicans to protect her , love her and keep the rhythm of her soul alive. As our emancipation anniversary draw nears my mind never fails to remind me why I am proud to be a Jamaican .

Jamaican Coat of Arms

You see, Jamaica has  some of the best unacclaimed prestige sites in the world. Once home to several wealthy, famous celebrities such as Ian Fleming, Noel Coward and Errol Flynn.  Our beautiful sites have been featured in several movies , with so much history behind them  that we often seem to forget. Hills and mountains that tell the tales of  our national heroes that have trod and fought endlessly for the freedom of our beautiful land; freedom for me and you. Many plantations which are now historic sites tell the stories of slavery , love and freedom.  Dated  from as late as the 18th century “Lover Leap” in Jamaica tells the story of , Mizzy and Tunkey(two slave lovers) who leaped from the  a cliff to avoid being separated by their slave masters.

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Lovers Leap located in SouthField, St.Elizabeth Jamaica

Also, historic church building represent great revivals which took place in the country. Strong evangelism and African rituals were used to spread the message of Christianity throughout the island.Our creole language( Patois) is much more than “ broken English’ comprised of African and English dialects.   It is a language of rebellion influenced by slave codes and modern day religions such as Rastafarianism. Slaves used this language to communicate on the plantations when slave masters strongly enforced  the use of standard English  in attempt to strip our ancestors of their cultural identity. They rebelled,and  hence Patois was formed. This speaks to the strong individuality of our Jamaicans. The Rastafarian religion prides itself on staying true to roots and the use patois language is an acknowledgement of the struggles and oppression which our ancestors suffered through.Image

Example of the Patois language

Being Jamaican is a way of life; you’ll have to experience it to know what it truly means. One is instilled with rich traditions and morals taking you through all walks  of life. From respecting your elders to helping to lead your older siblings from an early age. It is a  popular tradition to have beef soup on Saturdays  and attend church on Sundays, and  dinner is usually rice and peas and chicken . Food brings people together in Jamaica and my household was popular for feeding several members of my community and I am thankful for my grandmother for showing me this way of life. We learn from early that living for ourselves is vain and we must live for others to truly live; we are all one people, one family living in one country.  I would never forget the stories of “Anancy the spider” and how much fun we would have sharing these stories before bedtime or even the time we had no electricity and my “granny”would resort to a cast iron heated by coal to iron my clothes because she would never allow me to leave the house as If I slept underneath a  coconut tree .  “You must always ‘mawning’ to everyone and remember smile chile” she’d always say to me. I embrace my Jamaican heritage because it highlights that no matter how advanced our world becomes I will always be able to resort to the fundamentals of my culture built on rich morals and traditions .

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Vintage Cast Iron.

As I write my heart can’t help but be filled. As I’ve gotten older, my love for my country has only deepened . I realize I represent a unique identity of people. I represent a nation of leaders and believers .Jamaicans all have a greater vision for themselves , not only for themselves but anyone they meet . I think  somehow this was instilled by our ancestors, they had to vision to be freed from oppression, we have had many great leaders in our history. Particularly, Marcus Garvey who was able to create massive movements aiming at creating economic independence among our people .

Marcus Garvey

Presently, this spirit still  lives in every Jamaican ; the spirit of unity , strength, and determination and  it is evident in our athletes and every true Jamaican you may meet. We speak life into those around us and this one of the reasons why Jamaica is a true melting pot .Jamaica has the most beautiful  sunrise and an evening kiss ; it is impossible to not be mesmerized by her beauty.