Jamaica seeks world heritage status for reggae

Jamaican Reggae musician Chronixx performs at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco, California. (AFP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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Jamaica seeks world heritage status for reggae

PARIS: Jamaica is bidding to have reggae music admitted to a list of global cultural treasures worthy of protection, the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO announced on Tuesday.
Paris-based UNESCO keeps a list of so-called “intangible heritage” found around the globe, which groups together traditional cultural practices such as horse games in central Asia to pizza-making in Naples.
Jamaica has asked for reggae to be added this year at a meeting of the UN agency on the island of Mauritius, where 40 proposals are set to be considered from November 26 to December 1.
So far, 399 examples of world heritage including dances, food-making practices, boat-building, games, festivals and even coaxing rituals for camels in Mongolia have been added.
A successful application is largely symbolic, but can serve to raise the profile of the country and the practice.
Other applications this year have been filed for the Irish game of hurling, the making of perfume in the French town of Grasse, and traditional wrestling in South Korea known as Ssireum.
Reggae emerged in the late 1960s in Jamaica and quickly become a global phenomenon thanks to singers such as Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff and the famed producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.
The music, with its heavy bass lines and drums, has influenced countless artists since and spawned new sounds such as dub.


With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

Updated 21 February 2019
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With Saudi roots and an Indian heart, Al-Kazi is an act the stage will never forget

  • Though an icon in India, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots

JEDDAH: India has always been a hub of art and culture. Over the last century, movies emerged as the most expressive cultural medium, and the Indian film industry — commonly known as Bollywood — has since become a powerhouse of world cinema.

One can never do its history justice without mentioning Ebrahim Al-Kazi.

A renowned director and drama teacher, he worked as the director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD) from 1962 to 1977, teaching many well-known future actors and fellow directors, including Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Rohini Hattangadi. He also founded the Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi.

Though an Indian icon, however, few people know about Al-Kazi’s Saudi roots. His father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, was a trader from Unaiza in the Kingdom’s Qassim region, who subsequently settled in Pune, India, where Ebrahim was born in 1925. 

Early on in his career, Al-Kazi worked with the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, which included M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta, who would all later contribute to the design of his sets.

He worked in India, the US and Europe before becoming the director of the NSD, and later of the Asian Theater Institute, and is credited with staging more than 50 plays in his lifetime. He also contributes to the preservation of Indian cultural history through his Al-Kazi Foundation for the Arts.

In February 2015, Al-Kazi was honored at the second Saudi Film Festival in Dammam. He was later quoted in Arab media sources on his Saudi upbringing: “Our father was a firm believer in our cultural roots that went back to Saudi Arabia, and we spoke only Arabic at home. We had a teacher of Arabic and Islamic studies who came from Saudi Arabia, and lived as part of our family.

“Arab families (in India) did not mix very much with others, but my father had close ties with people other than Arabs,” he added.

Al-Kazi has also won many prestigious Indian awards. He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishthan’s Tanvir Award in 2004 for his contribution to Indian theater, and in 1966 received the Padma Shri award. He won the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, and was given India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.