As we come down from the high off the Olympics (remember that? I know we have super short memories) and into the Paralympics, one thing that has stuck with me is the love affair between London and Jamaica.
When the fastest man in the world Usain Bolt holding the title for the 100m and 200m races, Shelly Ann Frasier-Pryce won the 100m women's final, Yohan Blake showing up as one to seriously watch and the world relay record was broken by the JA team, Jamaican pride took over London. British, Indian, Nigerian, Ghanian and anyone else, was proud of Jamaica's victory. Some were even Jamaican, but just for a week or so.
An important day for Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora was Monday 6th August ,which marked 50 years of Jamaica's (semi) independence from Britains colonial rule, made extra memorable by Bolt winning the 100m the day before. You even saw journalists from BBC and Sky news speaking of patties, rum punch and domino games as they ventured around London looking for places that had enough Jamaicans in one place.
I say semi independence, for the following reasons - Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with The Queen as Sovereign, Jamaica is one of a number of Commonwealth countries where The Queen is Head, and her title is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth. Interesting position of authority for someone who doesn't live in a country that has apparent independence, no?
Anyway, there was a whole host of celebrations for the occasion in and around London! This kicked off with Jamaica 50 festival at the 02 - a series of live shows showcasing reggae music, Jamaica House that boasted food and vibes that was over subscribed before the first day, the regeneration of Marley Way in Brixton, south London - a place where the legendary bob Marley spent plenty a time, Brixton Sunsplash to mark the occasion and almost two weeks worth of music and celebrations at east London's Puma yard.
I would say I have a dual cultural identity. Being British born but of Jamaican heritage I was well into being extra proud of the place both my parents were born, the culture that is so embedded in me and the small island that has so greatly impacted the world. But for me it was a celebration of what is already there.
Jamaican culture is drenched here, from the slang we use, often without acknowledging or respecting its origins, the style of which we wear our clothes, the food we eat and the influence on the music we claim as our own. Youngster Warren Weir even had blonde girls tweeting #noenglishstraightpatois. The most well known reggae DJ (in the UK at least) is David Rodigan MBE and even Prince Charles has confessed his love for Jamaica.
Some of the most hardcore reggae fans are those who were influenced by the Windrush's era and the ushering in of African Caribbeans in the early 20th century when Jamaican culture and reggae music infiltrated the UK. And to be honest, it's fair to say Jamaicans know the UK and London is full of roots and culture.
However, let's be clear and remember that Jamaica isn't only good for Bob Marley, reggae reggae sauce, lilt and fast runners. These may be the parts of the small island that most resonate with the general public but some of the most historically important people have come from Jamaica.
Bob Marley was more than a reggae musician. He was a cultural icon that used his music that transcended countries, culture and religion to spread the word of unity, justice and peace. Likewise, with fellow Rastafarian musician Peter Tosh and important thinkers and leaders like Marcus Garvey and Samuel Sharpe who pushed for basic human rights and a unity for Africans and African Caribbeans and it's inevitable diaspora.
With the Olympics and the new sense (or remembrance) of Jamaica pride some of positives of the island have been highlighted. I may not wave my flag every day and I'd definitely say I'm the sum of many influences, happy to embrace my Britishness as well as the many cultures that I've absorbed but Jamaica's 50th year of independence has definitely reminded me that you have to appreciate and respect something in its full context and not just as a passing fad. I'm not gonna lie though - I certainly had a good time celebrating my Jamaican-ness and having other Brits celebrate with me.
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." - Marcus Garvey
Follow Michelle Holmes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/meesh_holmes