Art and Entrepreneurship: Jamaica vs. Joburg

Culture often disregards class, race, gender etc to unify people under a common banner. Just as how Rastafarians come in all shades and ethnicities, the dancehall scene is transplanted the world over with the common elements being the music and movement experienced in the space. People flock to this Jamaican-made spectacle, whether yaad or abroad, and apart from just entertainment, there is a full on business/industry made from reggae and dancehall. In a perfect world, the people who run our country would recognize the importance of our cultural heritage as transforming agents for our citizens and use them to enhance our social and economic structures. As it is, there is no real attention being paid to the arts by J’can government to the great disadvantage of the J’can people.

Follow my reasoning now- if Jamaica is this little speck on the globe, but nearly everywhere you go people know this little speck…“Hey Bob Marley, Burning Spear”…..“Hey Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Fraiser”… shouldn’t our government be capitalizing on these qualities that have given us international prominence?

Small businesses and non-gov organizations have been working throughout the years to keep arts alive in Jamaica, but with little support entrepreneurship and anything else outside the proverbial box is discouraged.

South Africa is very different; because of the legacy of apartheid, the government actually offers incentives to young black entrepreneurs and small businesses in what I see as a sort of reparation for the savagery of apartheid. And wi talkin nuff money subsidies too. There is a ting called Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) And so Joburg is teeming with these young creatives who do not work in the system but still contribute to it and get from it.

Whereas Jamaican governance seems to leech the lifeforce out of young craftspeople and entrepreneurs, they have a much more symbiotic relationship with the establishment in South Africa.

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