Jamaica’s rich culture on display at African-Caribbean Institute


Members of the public can enjoy key aspects of the country’s rich Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), which have been documented by the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ)/Jamaica Memory Bank (JMB).

The ACIJ/JMB launched its ICH exhibition during a ceremony at its library in downtown Kingston today (February 10). It is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fridays.

A division of the Institute of Jamaica, the ACIJ/JMB has developed an extensive inventory of ICH in Jamaica, and the exhibition represents its continuing work in documenting and protecting the nation’s local ICH elements.

Examples of Jamaica’s ICH can be found in the beliefs, and practices of folk religions such as Kumina, Rastafari, Revival or in the traditions of storytelling, craft and craft-making techniques, songs, proverbs, and cuisine from all ethnic groups.

Speaking at today’s ceremony, Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said it is vital that the Government, through the exhibition, continues to safeguard Jamaica’s cultural practices and social history.

“It was very important to me to make sure that all of us…protect that heritage…because if we don’t register it, and formalise it… 20 years from now, you might not have anything that reminds a young person about what it is,” she said.

The Minister thanked the Japanese Government and Embassy for providing resources to mount the exhibit, as well as funding a series of workshops with representatives of the ethnic and folk communities. The workshops served to strengthen the capacity of the groups to identify and safeguard their own unique ICH elements.

Stating that “Japanese people love the Jamaican culture”, Consul at the Embassy of Japan, Hiromoto Oyama, said that the people of his country firmly believe that culture is key to attaining peace and security in the world.

He assured that Japan will continue to work “hand in hand in countries like Jamaica” in helping to preserve elements of ICH.

“The Japanese Government, through our embassy here, will be working closely with the people and Government of Jamaica to work on the cultural aspect of Jamaica, so that myself, my children, and my grandchildren and generations to come, will continue to enjoy the Jamaican culture,” he pledged.

The ACIJ/JMB plays a critical role in documenting and protecting the nation’s ICH and is at the forefront of supporting the 2003 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

For the past 43 years, ACIJ/JMB has been involved in field, oral history documentation, archiving and public dissemination of information on these cultural elements.

The ACIJ/JMB documents Jamaica’s cultural practices and social history through a systematic research programme. Areas of research include language, dance forms, folktales, music, herbal medicine and life stories of citizens.

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