This Day in History: International Reggae Day

Reggae fans across the globe celebrate the rich legacy of reggae music today, July 1, as International Reggae Day (IRD). Honoring the genre’s rich history while celebrating its current artistes, this commemorative day was launched on July 1, 1994.

International Reggae Day was founded by Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings, who was inspired by a speech made from famed South African leader Winnie Mandela, during her visit to Kingston in 1991. The Jamaican

“Winnie Mandela spoke of the power of reggae music to uplift and inspire the people of South Africa as they fought for equal rights and justice during Apartheid,” recalls Davis in an interview with Jamaica Gleaner. “Given Reggae’s impact on the fight for freedom in South Africa, I wondered why it did not seem to have this impact in Jamaica, home of Reggae music,” explained Davis.

” At the time the music being promoted on Jamaican radio was less about equal rights and justice and more about ‘gun inna baggie’, so the idea of Reggae Day was born and Jamaican media was invited to take a day to celebrate the brand of music Jamaica had become known for around the world,” Davis said.

International Day has now evolved into a true global celebration, with events set this year in 35 cities.

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