By Crisan Evans
The Verzuz Effect has now proven to us that the butterfly effect truly exists. What do I mean? Well, the butterfly effect can be described as the idea that small things can have a non-linear impact on a complex system. In Jamaica’s case, we have turned our backs on our language, customs and culture for far too long. We continue to fail to acknowledge what we have, and we embrace what others have. We lack the acknowledgment of our own culture and expect others to acknowledge it when we don’t. I once heard of a lecturer at one particular university in Jamaica describing our music as “nauseating cacophonic” music. So, do we expect others to view our music as actual music while we don’t? Do we expect others to give respect to our music while we don’t?
In the past weeks, there has been an uproar on various social media platforms about the omission of the Jamaican music legends, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, from the American Entertainment Magazine, Billboard’s cover page which featured the American producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz’s Verzuz battle series. The Jamaican music legends’ performance on the series is arguably one of the best performances since its inception in March of this year. Their performance has attracted over 3,000,000 viewers worldwide, including many international celebrities such as international megastar, Rihanna, amongst others.
It came as a surprise to many Jamaicans when the Billboard omitted both icons from their Verzuz Effect cover page. However, it shouldn’t be a surprise based on how we, as a nation, have been treating our music, language, and culture. For many years we have been petitioning to have our native language, Patois, turned into our first language and English as our secondary language. However, every attempt has been rejected and met with hostility. Today, the University of Harvard, an Ivy League University in the United States is teaching OUR native language in their classrooms, while we are afraid to speak it even in casual conversations. The late Louise Bennett must be turning in her grave right now.
The neglect doesn’t stop with our language. Some of our most famous cultural expressions have been the centre of our tourist attractions. However, these elements of our local tongue have been ostracized and ridiculed by us, because we claim that these expressions should be considered as “bad words” and therefore they should not be used within the society. But guess what? Since 2019, a French-owned company, Gault et Millau, has been manufacturing beer branded with the name “Bomboclaat,” a Jamaican expression used to convey a variety of emotions (joy, anger, and pain, etc).
The Jamaican culture which is so rich in history and has such a strong influence on the world is now scattered across the globe as a result of our neglect. We have caused “culture vultures” around the world to come to our beautiful country and steal what belongs to us and claim it as their own because we continue to fail to appreciate what we have.
Crisan Evans is a content creator and Journalist whose passion lies in unraveling stories, reading, and writing poetry and other creatives. She completed her studies in Journalism at UWI, CARIMAC, and wants to contribute to changes in society through her journalism career.
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