KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Institute of Jamaica has received a grant of J$10.3 million from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to fund projects for the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Moore Town Maroons.
Minister of State for Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Dr. Wykeham McNeil, accepted the check on behalf of the Institute at a handing over ceremony, which was held at the Institute’s East Street premises on Wednesday, June 14.
He highlighted the importance of preserving the contribution of the Maroons to the country’s culture, stating “the Maroons are an important part of what makes us Jamaican and the Ministry endorses the preservation of this important aspect of Jamaican heritage and it is something, which though not tangible, is very present in everything we do”.
The grant follows on UNESCO’s 2003 proclamation of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Moore Town which is located in Portland, as a masterpiece of humanity.
In explaining the rationale for the project, Director of the UNESCO office for the Caribbean, Hélène-Marie Gosselin, said “around the world we are best known for protecting the tangible cultural heritage, the monuments and sites, but now we are looking forward to making sure that Jamaica gets a world heritage site on our famous world heritage list, as there are other forms which need to be preserved and passed on to future generations”.
The project will be supervised by the Institute through the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ) and a specialized committee of Moore Town Maroons.
Aspects of Maroon heritage, which the grant will assist to preserve through public education campaigns and workshops include, a Maroon traditional expression, called ‘Kromanti Play’, dances, songs, drumming styles, which are performed for ancestral spirits, and the use of the abeng, which is a horn blown for long distance communication.
The initiative falls under the UNESCO 1989 Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore, as well as the more recent UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of 2001.