What's Behind Jamaica's Universal Appeal?
Just what is it about Jamaica and Jamaicans that make people sit up and pay attention? How did one little (and I do mean little) island nation capture the hearts and imagination of generations of people all over the globe? Well, I think it has a lot to do with these five things.
“I don’t want to be around happy people,” said no one ever.
Jamaicans are friendly people. We get along with just about everyone, despite differences in culture, nationality, race, status or any of the other “why can’t we all just get along” barriers. This stems from the fact that Jamaica is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and we proudly live by our motto, “Out of many, one people”. So yea, we're happy with who we are and we're happy to meet you, because you're you!
Our flag - the (un)official symbol of hope, determination and success
Everyone knows (and still can’t figure out why) tiny Jamaica is the sprint powerhouse of the world. Our students are Rhode Scholars, our businessmen and women are respected globally, our artistes are in great demand and I could go on. Jamaicans have an intrinsic drive to not only venture into new frontiers, but to dominate them. We are never limited by conventional wisdom; just ask our Bobsled and Ice Hockey teams.
If music be the food of love…
If we accept the widely held notion that music is the universal language of the world, then Jamaicans are master communicators. Through Ska, Rocksteady, the infallible Reggae and now Dancehall, Jamaican music has certainly evolved. What hasn't changed though, is it's ability to keep the world rocking to its beat. Our artistes are world renown - legendary even. Our concerts and music festivals are highly anticipated and well supported. You hear Jamaican music, you immediately put your happy face on.
WTF – Where’s the food?
Everyone knows good food + good friends = good times and Jamaicans have that down pat. Our mixed heritage makes for a culinary paradise. Think spicy curries inspired by our Indian neighbors. World famous Jerk chicken, pork (and just about anything else) is a legacy from the indigenous Taino people and later perfected by the Maroons. We have the Spanish Jews that came to our shores many moons ago to thank for Excovitch Fish. And, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Jamaican home without some Hard Dough Bread, thanks to the Chinese. Over time, we've added our own flair and now there's no mistaking the distinct Jamaican flavor in our cuisine, regardless of its origin.
Rihanna’s singing it. Harvard’s teaching it. The movies fake it. They printed the Bible in it. First world youth dig it. Jamaican Patois, the, colorful and expressive dialect born from the echelons of the Jamaican society is definitely mainstream. Non-Jamaicans find our second language (Standard English being the first) cool and fashionable. For us, it’s symbolic of our resistance to oppression, independence and kinship.