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Jamaica is a complex, mysterious island nation located in the Caribbean Sea.

Part of the same under water mountain chain spawned many of the tropical islands, Jamaica's heritage is one of struggle and consummate perseverance in spite of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Inhabited by Taino natives, the island was "discovered" by Christopher Columbus on one of his early expeditions to the New World, and soon Spanish settlers and their African slaves battled amongst themselves and other European colonists for control of the island and its agricultural bounty.

Only liberated from British Colonial rule in 1962, the resilient people of Jamaica continue to struggle against abject poverty and corruption amidst an incredible flowering of musical, humanitarian and artistic culture.

One emissary in particular, Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley rose to international stardom with his unique blended musical genre dubbed "reggae."

Rising up from humble beginnings as a mixed-race youngster in the Jamaican countryside, Bob and his single mother moved to the capital city of Kingston where he quickly earned the nickname "Tuff Gong" due to his self-defensive street fighting style.

Soon enough Bob Marley became a leader among the musically inclined youth of Kingston and through intense efforts and spiritual conviction, he persevered through cultural inequities, societal unrest, violence and poverty to become The Pan-African icon of the 20th Century.

On my recent Arts Envoy IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) visit as a U.S. Department of State Exchange Program citizen ambassador, I learned more about Jamaica, its history, culture, and people, and am very much looking forward to sharing these stories with you.

Please visit the Jamaica Arts Envoy IPR landing page for a photo journal and be sure to check in for more posts about Jamaica here on the Songlife Blog.

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