The Art Exhibit in Kingston You Need to See: ‘Jamaica, Jamaica’

Jamaica, Jamaica!: How Jamaican Music Conquered the World‘ is the latest art exhibit being shown at the National Gallery of Jamaica. It opened on February 2 and closes on June 28, 2020. It’s one of the most exciting exhibits ever launched by this gallery and was aptly opened in February, locally observed as Reggae Month. This exhibit was previously shown at Philharmonie de Paris in 2017 and titled “The General” after the 1985 hit song by artiste Brigadier. Renamed Jamaica, Jamaica! after gracing local shores, this exhibit documents how the tiny Caribbean island of Jamaica was able to become a global musical force to be reckoned with. The capital city of Kingston and venue of the exhibition is recognized as the birthplace of six distinct musical genres which led to Kingston being designated official UNESCO creative city status in 2015.

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The Top 10 Free Things to Do in Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston is the largest English-speaking city south of the United States, the capital of Jamaica, and a city I’m proud to call home. Kingston is located on the island’s southeastern coast and is the heartbeat of Jamaica– the home of business, commerce, government and a spirit and culture which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Reggae and dancehall music were born in the deep gritty slums of Kingston as a means by which the city’s most oppressed and impoverished could escape their struggles, and now the entire country, region and world pulsate to these riddims.

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Three Days to See Kingston, Jamaica

Jamaica gets millions of tourists annually and I’m just so fortunate to #livewhereyouvacation. However, that doesn’t mean us locals take advantage of all the sights to see and things to do around our own island. Many Jamaicans (& visitors too) only associate the resort towns of Jamaica with adventure and enjoyment– Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril– which usually means big bucks and a lot of travelling for the nearly 700,000 inhabitants of Kingston, the capital city on the eastern end of the island and far from these tourism centres. However, I’m about to show you how to enjoy the city that’s right under your noses. Set aside three days and let’s enjoy Kingston as I know it!

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National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is the oldest and largest public art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean, established in 1974. It was borne out of a need to showcase the excellent talent and beauty of the Jamaican art scene, sending a powerful message to the ex-colonial powers that we too are capable of creating technically sound masterpieces to uniquely depict the Jamaican story. This gallery bears a comprehensive collection of early, modern and contemporary local art alongside smaller Caribbean and international holdings, with a significant part of its collections on permanent display. There are also frequent temporary exhibitions– the most recent of which was John Dunkley’s ‘Neither Day nor Night’ which ended on July 29.

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Port Royal, Kingston

Ahoy, me hearties! Over a bottle of Jamaican rum, let’s talk about the Wickedest City of the West during her glory days, shall we?

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Fleet Street, Kingston

Fleet Street is the pearl of Downtown Kingston which breaks down barriers and breathes hope into disadvantaged communities. Downtown is a bustling metropolis featuring the headquarters of leading Jamaican businesses, stores, government offices and the House of Parliament. However, for my entire life I’ve heard my mother say she doesn’t go downtown if she doesn’t absolutely have to and when she did, she rarely took me along. Why? Downtown has been plagued for decades with many socio-economic issues, troubled inner-city communities and now as a result harbours notorious gangs and garrisons which led to the city once being labeled as the murder capital of the world. Political corruption has severed communities, led to the stark increase in crime and now our leaders grapple with reining in the monster which they have created. Nonetheless, as we say in Jamaica “wah nuh dead nuh call ih duppy” (literally translated: if it’s not dead, don’t call it a ghost). And that’s what Downtown Kingston is– a reawakening city and perhaps the most colourful part of that renaissance is located on Fleet Street.

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Rockfort Mineral Bath, Kingston

Besides therapeutic mineral-rich water at the Rockfort Mineral Bath in Kingston, the property houses historical ruins of an old fort. Rockfort was first fortified in 1694 as protection against possible French invasion from Saint-Domingue. This was done to augment Port Royal’s fortification which was badly damaged 2 years earlier in the infamous Port Royal earthquake of 1692. Therefore, I’m puzzled as to why this attraction is only marketed as a mineral bath.

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The Spirit of Budo: Japanese Exhibition in Kingston

The Spirit of Budo is a traveling Japanese martial arts exhibition, put on by the Japan Foundation. It has been shown in 36 countries globally: from Morocco, France, Germany and Brazil, to name a few. I’m happy to see it reach Jamaican shores, the second Caribbean island in which it has been showcased since its debut by the foundation a decade ago. I don’t know much about Japanese or Asian culture really, but I welcome learning of other cultures, especially when that country takes the time, effort and money to carry expensive authentic relics and replicas to a museum near me. It is on display in Kingston from January 10 to March 18, 2017 at the National Museum of Jamaica (NMJ). Do pay a visit if you can.

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