Celebrating Junkanoo in the bahamas as a mark of our identity

Topics: Junkanoo, The Bahamas, Carnival Pages: 7 (2226 words) Published: April 1, 2014


IntroductionPage 2
The Origin of JunkanooPage 3
How has Junkanoo changed over the yearsPage 4
The MusicPage 5
The DancePage 7
The CostumePage 8
What makes Junknoo unique to The BahamasPage 9
The role Junkanoo played in the building of the national identity Page 10 ConclusionPage 11
ReferencesPage 12

Junkanoo is the greatest cultural event in the Bahamas. “It is a type of street carnival which is similar to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and Trinidad Carnival and groups compete for prizes, with distinctive music and attire.”N-Bethel(2000) It is held during Christmastime, and represents poverty and wealth, discipline and rebellion, competition and cooperation, creative genius and physical powess.

The main event happens in New Providence but there are also smaller parades on some of the ‘family islands’ like Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Abaco. Junkanoo is distinctive to The Bahamas and is an event that is greatly anticipated.

Like Carnival, Junkanoo may be regarded as the culmination of the tales of identification told to the self (Bahamians) and to other (tourists and other foreigners). “Bahamian Junkanoo tells the tales of the self: it is simultaneously the central symbol of black Bahamians’ development, a metaphor for national progress, an affirmation of Bahamian creativity, and arena for social commentary and a ready tool for the education of the young”.- N Bethel(2000)

The Origin of Junkanoo
“The original Junkanoo is the strongest remaining African tradition in the Bahamas”-V.Bain. The origin of the word Junkanoo is unknown. Some say it comes from the French "L'inconnu" (meaning the unknown), in reference to the masks worn by the paraders; or "junk enoo," the Scottish settlers' reference to the parades, meaning "junk enough;" or "John Canoe," the name of an African tribal chief who demanded the right to celebrate with his people even after being brought to the West Indies in slavery.  It is believed that this festival began during the 16th and 17th centuries and are known variously as John Canoe, Masquerade, Gombey and Moco Jumbo. The slaves were given a three day special holiday at Christmas time, when they could leave the plantations to be with their family and celebrate the holidays with African dance, music and costumes. After emancipation, they continued this tradition and, today, “Junkanoo has evolved from its simple origins to a formal, more organized parade with sophisticated, intricate costumes, themed music and incentive prizes.”-V.Bain  In contrast to the other Caribbean islands where Junkanoo has become obsolete except in Jamaica and Bermuda where it is still celebrated but not on a large scale. Junkanoo in the Bahamas has evolved into a national festival. Unlike most of the other festivals, however, Bahamian Junkanoo did not disappear during the post-emancipation era, but grew, as did Trinidad’s Carnival, into the present urban extravaganza.

How has Junkanoo changed over the years
In the Bahamas, slaves were allowed three days off around Christmas. During that time, they let loose by dancing and playing the music from their homes in Africa. Costumes were made with whatever material was handy – scraps of newspaper, sea sponge, and other discarded items. The Junkanoo parades continued up to 1942, when they were suspended after the Burma Road Riots. They were again revived in 1947. In the 1950’s the parade became more organized, as categories were introduced and groups were formed to represent different districts. In recent years the majority of those who take part have belonged to one of approximately fifteen groups, about six of whom compete fiercely for cash prizes, these organize their presentations according to central themes, around which all the elements that they bring to the parade coher.-N. Bethel. The rest, both...

References: Bain, V. (1996). Junkanoo and public order in the Bahamas, 1890-1930s. Unpublished History Tripos Thesis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.
Miller Alleyne (1998) Sampath 1997, van Koningsbruggen 1997
Bethel, E. C. (1991). Junkanoo: Festival of the Bahamas. In N. Bethel (Ed.). London and Basingstoke: Macmillan Caribbean.
Bethel, N. (1994). Ain 't nobody gone take it from you: Bahamian Junkanoo. Unpublished draft article for 1994 Festival of American Folklife booklet.
Conard Kristin (2011) Creating Junkanoo in The Bahamas
Bethel ,Nicollete . (2000) .Junkanoo in the Bahamas: a tale of identity
Unpublished draft article
Bethel, Nicollete, (2007) Blog World
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