Junkanoo has been mentioned throughout history as early as 1880’s. Where a journal owned by Charles Farquharson, a plantation owner on San Salvatore confirmed that a three day holiday was granted to the slaves in the Bahamas. The slaves would join together and amuse each other with dancing up to the daylight. 3According to the article by Rosita M. Sands Junkanoo is a “carnival- like musical celebration associated primarily with end-of-year holiday festivities”. There is only one known place where there is a full blown celebration of Junkanoo still exist which is in The Bahamas.
The Impact For the Culture
The impact Junkanoo has is not only in The Bahamas amongst our youth, but also the impact of Junkanoo exceeds to everyone worldwide, no matter their nationalities. With strengths and beliefs for the Bahamian culture being broaden in every aspect towards the Junkanoo festival, with the grave impact for the festival nationwide and worldwide the tradition would be able to be passed down from generation to generation; therefore, allowing the remembrance of each festival to remember through every single generation that has pass for the future generation to come.
Figure 1. One Family last out as they go for the double win Junkanoo Figure 2. Interests ( www.personal.psu.edu)
Costumes and Music
According to Timothy Rommen “Junkanoo music, functions as a particularly powerful mechanism of cultural intimacy in the Bahamas”. The music of Junkanoo is both festival music and popular music. The festival junkanoo music then created a distinctive Bahamian sound. Using timbral markers (cowbells, whistles, and foghorns), is inter- twined with stylistic traits pulled from reggae, calypso, soca, saxophone rhythm and blues, funk, dub, rap, and pop. Maureen believes Junkanoo music is what distinguishes Junkanoo from other carnivals. She also believes it it’s the beat which people can’t imitate which makes Junkanoo different from other carnivals.
Junkanoo costumes were usually made from indigenous materials such as plants, newspaper and sponge up till the twentieth century. John Canoe used this supplies especially during the time of poverty. Themed group costumes was born groups started to use supplies such as crepe paper, wire, glue, aluminum rods and contact cement. These supplies were usually bought in large quantities at a great expense therefore groups would try to get financial sponsorship from the community. Costume preparation would usually start 7 to 12 months in advance and groups try their best to be unique as possible.
The Junkanoo Family
Junkanoo is more than just a parade on New Years to some of us Grand Bahamians. Junkano is their favorite hobby, the Junkanoo Shack is their second home and the Junkanoo group is their second family. Without Junkanoo, the economy probably would be worst of that it is now. Although it can be an expense to the government. This is one expense I think is worth it. If Junkanoo was removed,the crime rate will be higher than ever for both minors and adults. Also,the school dropout level would be at an incline. As stated before, Junkanoo groups are like family therefore, a numerous of the kids are mentored by the adults in the group.
Figure 3: Grand Bahama Junkanoo Community Pay Tribute to Motorboat Ferguson with Help From BTC ( www.bahamaslocal.com)
Junkanoo in Grand Bahama has definitely come a long way, as it has become more of a tourist attraction and economic support. Even though Junkanoo is consistently changing into a more commercial yet cultural event, the great sense of Bahamian culture is still there and we embrace it every time we participate in it.
Due to its success, Junkanoo in Grand Bahama has extended into more renditions and festivals. For instance, we now have what is called “Junkanoo Carnival” which is held in the summer for adults and tourists. It is a commercial, 3-day event which is full of people dancing, food and drink and live performances. Another popular rendition of Junkanoo is Junior Junkanoo. Junior Junkanoo is a version of the original Junkanoo parade which is based around students of private and public schools. The Junior Junkanoo program is very important because it is a very cultural experience in which they can have fun and also get more in touch with their native side. It’s also important because it gives students the chance to have their own thing, other than sharing with adults. Junkanoo gives students a greater sense of school spirit, enhances self-pride in themselves as Bahamians, builds self-esteem, and contributes to a greater appreciation of the students’ roots as Bahamians. Junior Junkanoo also helps students realize some talents that they never even knew they had such as musical when playing instruments or artistic when making costumes.