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Wa-ka, wa-ka is the sound of the first riffs that open up Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up.” Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” begins with slow-paced horns that give way to her cool cadence. Drums pause with the guitars at the top of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It.”

It’s reggae: smooth, lovely, cool, collected, classic.
Jamaica, where the sound first gave a voice to the oppressed and the hopeful, is now seeking a new honor for the genre. As early as Monday, Unesco will announce a decision on the country’s application to put reggae on the world body’s list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
“It will be a major achievement for Jamaica if we are successful in having the designation declared by Unesco,” Olivia Grange, the country’s culture minister, said at a news conference last month.