... and Junkanoo:Ian Strachan on culture
Mr. Smith: When you wrote "Godâ€™s Angry Babies" which was very sympathetic to the illegal immigrant population, my information now is the significant amount of sympathy that was there before has been some what eroded by the new image of the new illegal migrant. Any impact from that group on the new Bahamian?
Mr. Strachan: I think that the history of Haitian migration in the Bahamas is a lot longer than the casual observer might imagine. Really, the connection stems back 100 years, what we have now though is a more pronounced separation in terms of living conditions between the Bahamian of the 21st Century and the Haitian peasant who is risking his life to come here, their living conditions havenâ€™t changed much in 50-70 years.
Mr. Smith: But there is also a new Haitian.
Mr. Strachan: I think he is a new Bahamian. Thatâ€™s my view.
I have not participated in the junkanoo parades for a number of years. While sitting in the bleachers and watching the parades during this period, I have not been impressed. It appears that the groups, or their leaders, are losing and may have lost their creative edge. The regurgitation of themes, the similarity of costumes from year to year and from group to group, and the seeming difficulty of groups to define or stamp a unique brand has led me to this conclusion. The management and administration of the parades need major overhaul. For one thing I do not believe that junkanoo leaders can or should head the Junkanoo Commission. There seem to be too many inherent conflicts. It appears that one or two junkanoo leaders have the arrogant view that they own and should control every aspect of the parade. I believe that the postponement of the Boxing Day Parade was a direct result and manifestation of this arrogance. How could you postpone a national cultural parade twenty-four hours before the scheduled start of that parade? A weather system could stall, dissipate or radically change direction within twenty-four hours. We do harm to our cultural development locally and internationally when we make these selfish decisions. We all appreciate the time, effort and Labor of love that go into preparing for the parades, but the spectators have as much right to ownership of junkanoo as the leaders. The Junkanoo Commission should be headed by persons who are unattached to junkanoo groups and who have knowledge of junkanoo and possess the highest integrity. We do have such persons in the Bahamas. Some of these persons may have at one time been part of a junkanoo group, but have been unattached to the group for a number of years. Junkanoo groups should be represented on the Commission but in an advisory and consultative capacity.