In search of the missing link

To show the religious syncretism in the Caribbean is not unpublished, what is it with "Soul Rebels", it is to approach it in Jamaica. The worship associating the trance was widely studied for Cuba, Haiti or Brazil; almost not for Jamaica!

 

Even by questioning the artists or the population, you collect at best condescending smiles, in the worst of the hostility. Why this attitude in a country so proud of its African inheritance? A fact so much more surprising when the popular music Dancehall, hinted at the Kumina and Poco cults in the 80/90’s.

 

It was thus necessary to meet the musicians who had created this music and asked them if they had drawn well from these liturgical directories; to ask also the followers of these worships why they were the big forgotten of the history of the Jamaican music?

 

And half-surprise, indeed, the musicians confirmed that number of Dancehall rythms had well been inspired by the rhythms of the Revival or Kumina worships. But not only ! These religions already carried in 18th and 19th an emancipator word, for the slaves at first, then for the freed people. We understand better from then on the appearance of Rastafari from 1930s.
Such the missing link !

 

Soul Rebels is a project stemming from my excessive love of Dancehall for 30 years and from the patient study of ethnologic articles having dealt with these always long-lived religions today, although in decline.

 

The filmed conversations of the founding musicians (Sly Dunbar, Clevie Browne) ; of specialized ethnologists (E. Seaga, W. Wedenoja) so of as believers allow to understand the Jamaican spiritual profusion;  its filiations and its differences.

 

With for corollary a similar attachment in the African spirituality and in the fight for human rights. Against all odds, whatever are the periods. A militant spirit, a run-up for the spirituality, certainly the salt of the Jamaican identity.

 

In a more global way, the study of Jamaican music is also the one of the globalized music and culture of the 20th and 21th centuries (see the success of the hip-hop and street culture ; fashion,  dancing ,ie...). To deal with the interactions between Dancehall and these first ("native") religions confirm, if need be, that Jamaica is an obliged passage to understand Rap, Pan-Africanism, the Street culture.

 

Beyond its musical influence, this small island also produced worships and major currents of thought of the black culture which developed when they reached the American ground (Ethiopianism, Panafricanism).

 

Stéphane Delphin



"Country" Vigie Revival
The Unstoppable Kumina band
Prosperous Sound system Jamaica 1991
Sly Dunbar (Sly and Robbie) Batteur, producteur
Professeur William Wedenoja - Anthopologue
Clevie Browne  (Steely and Clevie)  Batteur et Producteur
Nanny - la Reine des Marrons - Jamaique
L'ordre règne à la Jamaique - Daumier 1865
Asher D et Daddy Freddy "Raggamuffin Hip Hop" LP