XAYMACA

Today, Jamaican urban landscape is filled with inscriptions reminiscent of its rich cultural past. Linked to this is a conscious effort by its residents to identify themselves with reggae music and to recapture and sustain the positive legacies that have made Jamaica popular. This is manifested in the numerous murals, statues, and graffiti seen throughout the community evoking past images of reggae music icons such as Marley and Tosh alongside renowned black leaders such as Marcus Garvey. These inscriptions are conceived as texts and are seen as part of a broader discourse on issues relating to urban spatial identity, commoditization, exclusion, struggle, resistance, and change. Landscape inscriptions, like any other spatial strategy and form, allow us to elicit, if even partially, the importance of place to people’s sense of identity.
Many of these murals adorn the shacks made of rusted metal sheets and recycled wood that, together with multi-colored concrete buildings and scraped warehouses, accomplish the Jamaican landscape. While the problem of informal settlements in Kingston and the nation may not be as critical as in other Latin American and Caribbean countries, in Jamaica it is perceived as a major problem that contributes to the country’s poor economic performance, poverty, and social inequality. In Jamaica there are 600,000 people who do not have legal title to the homes they live in; they represent 25 % of the nation’s population.
In 1962 Jamaica gained independence from British rule. Since then, things have not always been easy for the Caribbean island. But things have not been all bad either. The reason for Jamaica’s economic woes are complex. Trade agreements and international borrowing can effect developing countries significantly. Jamaica has been a victim of this, as well as political ostracization from the United States due to Jamaica friendliness and tolerance towards Cuba.

Despite the shaky economic situation, Jamaicans have always done wonders in the creative fields or art and music, with very modest technology at their disposal and although  the presence of the past, is still strong, now the young throbbing crowd of Jamaica is young and is looking for a new myth to hold on: less Bob Marley and more Usein Bolt. On the overcrowded beaches far away from the tourist resorts, in the suburbs -among the most violent and poorest ones of the world where cricket is played in the streets and people dance the inevitable “dancehall” -faster and more disengaged than the traditional reggae- the new Jamaican generations look at the rest of the world. To find the true Rasta spirituality you have to take refuge in the hills where hemp is grown. While the new dreamers are surfing the waves of the ocean.