[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Shenae Curry (Travel Noire) lists things Jamaicans have contributed to the world (which you might not have known) including chocolate milk, the Electric Slide, Rastafari, hip-hop, and a variety of food and drink exports.
It’s hard to meet a Jamaican and not know their nationality within the first 5 minutes of conversation. They are a proud and boastful people and have every right to be!
Jamaicans are widely known and have communities in almost every city like New York, London, and Toronto and have heavily influenced sub-cultures in Japan, Australia, and Lebanon.
When you think of Jamaica you probably think of jerk chicken, track & field, the glamorization of weed, Bob Marley, and of course, reggae music; but there is so much more that the little island had contributed globally!
Here’s a list of things Jamaicans have contributed to the world that you might not have known:
In the late 1700s, Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica from Ireland as a fellow of the College of Physicians to serve as the personal physician to the Governor of Jamaica. Sloane encountered cacao while he was in Jamaica, where the locals drank it mixed with water, though he is reported to have found it nauseating and therefore mixed his with milk. His recipe was later popularized and served cold.
The Electric Slide
One of the most, if not THE most, popular line dance that you can’t go to any black event without doing would not exist without Jamaicans. Though the Electric Slide itself is done to many different songs, it was created to the track “Electric Boogie” which was performed by Marcia Griffiths and written & recorded by Bunny Wailer, a known collaborator of Bob Marley.
Widely Known Exports
Almost every supermarket has an aisle consisting of Asian and Mexican foods but no international aisle is complete without jerk seasoning, corned beef, ackee, and Grace flavorings. Jamaica has some of the most sought after food exports of any country from Blue Mountain Coffee, Red Stripe Beer, jerk spices, beef patties, and more. Japan itself is responsible for 80% of Blue Mountain Coffee exports. Late March/early April, exports of bun & cheese skyrocket in commemoration of Easter Sunday. And let us not forget, no bar is complete without Wray & Nephew or Appleton Rum!
Very few countries can say that they’ve contributed a religion to the world. Rastafarianism is an Abrahamic religion that developed in Jamaica during the 1930s.
Rasta beliefs are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible following a monotheistic belief in a single God, referred to as Jah, who partially resides within each individual. Most Rastas regard Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, as the Second Coming of Christ and thus Jah incarnate. Others see him as a human prophet who fully recognized the inner divinity in every individual. Rastafari is Afrocentric and focuses attention on the African diaspora, which it believes is oppressed within Western society, aka, “Babylon”. Many Rastas call for this diaspora’s resettlement in Africa, better known as the Promised Land or “Zion”. Rastas believe in living as naturally as possible, adhering to ital dietary requirements, twisting their hair into dreadlocks, and following patriarchal gender roles.
As many know, the birthplace of Hip-Hop is The Bronx, New York but what they don’t know is that those who gave birth to the genre & culture itself were Jamaican immigrants. In 1969, Clive Campbell, his parents and 6 younger siblings emigrated to New York City. He grew up around sound systems, dancehall, graffiti and an atmosphere where both his native and new cultures would both blend beautifully and shape him into a musical pioneer. On August 11, 1973, the now famous DJ Kool Herc set up to DJ and emcee a party where he would introduce the world to his new style of scratching called “the breaks” which created and inspired a movement that would change music and influence a culture for years to come. Over the past several decades, almost one million immigrants left Jamaica with sights on the US, UK and Canada and about thirty-one per cent reside in New York City, so it isn’t a surprise that a large percentage of the most prominent hip-hop artists are children of the diaspora. Legends like the Slick Rick, Heavy D, Busta Rhymes and The Notorious B.I.G are notable Jamaican-Americans.
Related: “What Makes You Proud to Be Jamaican?” South Florida Caribbean News, August 5, 2020