Most of an entire generation has never seen Junkanoo. They do not know the lyrics to Christmas a come or the joy of walking Grand Market all night. We seem to be losing ourselves in this globalized and monoculture world. Indeed, our Christmas season has become as commercial as elsewhere and less Jamaican.
Cable television and the internet’s influence are diluting our rich culture and inserting nuff things foreign. We seem to savor the tastes of others greedily. See all the snowmen in Christmas decorations, turkeys on dinner tables and apples and grapes in lunchboxes.
Granted, many Jamaicans have lived abroad and understandably adopted foreign ways. We have no problem with that. We love when people come here and turn Yardie in an instant. But we expect Jamaicans to leave foreign culture where they board the plane to return here for something they couldn’t get there.
Some blame goes to social media that shrinks the world and shares everyone’s entertainment, humor and cultural idioms. Nothing uniquely belongs to any one place anymore. That is good for business and communications. But it wreaks havoc on the cultures of smaller nations without large intrusive media.
To subvert this erosion of our culture we ought to blast out what is uniquely Jamaican. We should establish official cultural spaces on social platforms to serve as virtual museums, cookbooks, playlists and town squares. We can counter cultural colonization with the same resistance we had to slavery. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, Jamaica National Heritage Trust, the Institute of Jamaica, the National Gallery, and even JIS must find revolutionary ways to use these platforms to promote Jamaica.
Some of this happens on Tik Tok and other channels, but in a haphazard way. We need to be systematic, strategic, and adeptly purposeful. Visitors should come here this time of year not only for our sun and sea but also for the special way we celebrate Christmas. If all we do is mimic their culture then there is no useful memory for them to take back.