Miss Louise Bennett (Miss Lou) is an important cultural figure in Jamaica. She was a great champion for the local language, patois, and the preservation of Jamaican folk songs (many of which started as slave songs). Here are some videos and songs by her. She’s a character, for sure!
Anansi stories are one of my absolute favorite things about Jamaican culture. Anansi is an African retention god. He’s known as a trickster, very devious and cunning. He usually takes the form of a spider, outwitting tigers and other jungle inhabitants. There’s a move to remove him from school curriculum because, well, he’s not terribly moral. Slaves often idolized Anansi (to an extent) and his stories because he often got the best of his captors. So he’s an important part of the history and culture of the island.
At gatherings where there are performances of any kind (poetry recitation, singing, etc), there are often dramatic re-tellings of Anansi stories, which I love. Jamaica is home to some fabulous public speakers and dramatists. I’m hoping to get some video next time I hear an Anansi story.
(I highly recommend reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman and the follow-up, Anansi Boys. This is what stemmed my interest in Anansi and folklore. AG is legitimately one of my favorite books and Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite living author.)
(In other news, I now have a camera! Photo-heavy post coming soon, promise!)