Augmented Reality & Jamaican Folklore

Orane Ennis
Mar 31 · 4 min read
Image Credit: Wonder Story Within

In a recent post, I gave my response to the Introduction on Why Digital Writing Matters and at the end of that post, I made mention that digital writing works as an augmentation to traditional writing. It allows writers to enhance their work by integrating other forms of media such as gifs, video clips, sound bites, and more. The content is enhanced and allows for improved engagement.

Similar to how digital writing has enhanced traditional writing, I believe, in fact, I know that augmented reality (AR) will enhance the way we tell and consume stories. This change has already begun, and will only go further as the technology evolves and becomes more common.

What I hope to see in the future is Jamaicans using augmented reality to tell new stories, breathe life into old ones, boost our culture and take it to new heights

Jamaica is known for its culture, language, music, athleticism, and more. But one part of Jamaican culture which I wish to see more widely known is our folklore. Our folklore is rich with tales of witches and beasts unique to our island and our culture.

Augmented Reality would help to bring those stories to life in ways like never before. The coming generation would be introduced to old tales in a new way while the older generation can the stories they grew up hearing, reimagined and brought to life.

The Importance of Jamaican Folklore

With the advancement of technology and globalization, there is something that is noticed around the world, especially here in Jamaica. Aspects of our culture are being forgotten especially among the youth. As time passes, new technology is introduced and we are more exposed to the beliefs and ways of other cultures. As we consume parts of foreign cultures, we seem to forget a bit of our own.

This is not to say that Jamaican culture does not affect other cultures, and societies, this is far from the truth. Even though the country is small, its culture is large and undeniably impactful — as the saying goes “wi likkle but wi tallawah.”

Look no further than London, England where many enjoy Jamaican music such as dancehall and reggae and have their language affected by patois. It’s an interesting cycle when you consider the role the British has played in Jamaica’s recorded history.

With that being said, where will Jamaican culture be in the years to come? More so, what about Jamaican folklore? While our music, our language, and other aspects of our culture continue to spread across the globe. As they are celebrated, adopted, appreciated and, some would argue, appropriated by other people; our folklore seems to have taken a back seat.

Many people outside of Jamaica don’t know the tales of the River Mumma or Rolling Calf or any of the other folktales which many Jamaicans have grown up hearing. Many of the younger members of Jamaican society aren’t familiar with these tales either.

Folklore is a key aspect of any culture and Jamaica’s is no exception. It is the superstitions, the stories and tales of supernatural beings which are used to pass on knowledge, inform traditions, and teach lessons. But now, as times have changed, we are more connected and stories are told differently, we are more exposed to the stories of other cultures than our own.

That is not to say, we cannot appreciate the original and adapted stories of other cultures, no, we can and we should but at the same time, we should not forget or neglect our own.

The Future of Jamaican Folklore & Storytelling

In order to preserve and push Jamaican folklore, we need to tell better stories, and as mentioned before, I believe a great way to do that will be Augmented Reality.

This is not to say that AR is the only way we push forward Jamaica’s folklore, in fact, that there are many small-time creators who have used Jamaica’s folklore to inspire their work. However, AR will provide a much more immersive experience. One that will allow everyone, young and old, to enjoy the beauty of our folktales.

The problem that many people have with folklore, not just Jamaica’s, is that they view them as antiquated stories that don’t necessarily require that much attention or even effort. However, folktales should be preserved, and adapted, and brought forward as they serve as a reminder of who we are as a people. They should not be kept apart from technology, but rather integrated with it so that current and future generations can experience age-old stories in new ways.

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