Healing Jamaica with Reggae Music

Feb 14 / Isabel Dennis
Even though Reggae music was born in Jamaica and has been spreading the message of peace and love world wide for decades, Jamaica has consistently had one of the highest murder rates per capita in world.

How can these seemingly contradicting statements be true?

Well, that's the topsy, turvy reality of Caribbean life. Where masks of all kinds are the norm and  illusions are sometimes more real and than the reality.

In the video below, my friend Dr. DJ Afifa, a music analyst and sound artist, shares some of her thoughts on this topic.
Will reggae heal Jamaica?  ~ Dr. DJ Afifa ~

The value of reggae

In Maybe reggae is a diamond, Dr. DJ Afifa explained that,

"We have to talk about big reggae and little reggae. R and r.

Big R is Reggae, the resource the industry, where you can get trained to work as tour managers, producers and social media experts.

Little reggae or reggae is a seed. a gem of a idea. a principle. reggae is where you can think about your life, think about justice, injustice, Africa, humans, people, black people. reggae is where we can mek philosophy. our own ideas encoded."

This distinction raises the question of reggae's value. Specifically, what is reggae used for and what can reggae be used for?

Dr. DJ Afifa continued on to present an interesting parallel between the Reggae industry and the diamond mining industry. She described a situation where both Jamaica and Sierra Leone's valuable resources were successfully being exported to the world, but were not being used to sufficiently improve the quality of life for their citizens.

But why is this happening and what can we do to change it?

Music, society and culture

From a historical perspective, music has been one of the primary methods of learning for Africans and Asians in the Caribbean.

So it is easy to understand when Dr. DJ Afifa said that she believes music holds answers to some of the issues we face in the Caribbean. But how, or more importantly, why did music shift from a learning tool to an economic tool. Who benefits from such a shift?

Clearly it'll be the people who control the economy. But how were they able to get the power to control the economy? What happened in the past that gave them that position, and what guides their approach to controlling the economy? Is it a principle of creating a fair and just world for all?

These are some of the questions that Dr. DJ Afifa has been exploring for over 20years as she understands the power of music and the importance of harnessing it's power for the greater good of everyone.

For this Reggae month, February 2024, Dr. DJ Afifa has teamed up with Learning to Live to examine the question: Will reggae music heal Jamaica?

Register here and link up with Dr. DJ Afifa on her socials here.

Dr. DJ Afifa is the founder of Sound Culture University - a space that focuses on understanding the relationship between music, society and culture for music lovers, artist, producers, and musicians, to engage in music, share ideas, and gain new perspectives.

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