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tourism-junkanoo-rushoutFirstly, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for hearing the cries of the few in the cultural community who spoke up, along with the Bahamian public.  Thank you for adding a name that is synonymous with one of our major Bahamian cultural expressions.

Although I felt like you did not go far enough.  In my opinion, the festival could have been named Rake-N-Scrape, Jumbey, or Goombay, but it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that there was a change and that you listened to us.  It also shows that the ‘voice of the people’ is the voice that matters.

I feel proud to have been in the dissent column.  The column that stood up for our culture and not just someone’s selfish ambitions.  It feels great to know that there was a compromise made.  When others said nothing would change, it changed, “Take Dat Haters!!”  Again, thank you, Mr, Prime Minister.

I also sat down with the Minister Of Youth, Sports, and Culture, a few weeks ago and had a very insightful meeting with him and his Permanent Secretary.  We ironed out most of my objections.  I found most of his present and future plans groundbreaking.  I would like to commend him for being open and available to meet with me.

The Music

Going forward, my only objection to the Carnival/Festival, at this point, is the type of music that will now represent the Bahamas and the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.  From what I have heard, and know, the top 25 songs selected were mostly authentic Trinidadian sounding soca songs.  Using Trinidadian slang, Trinidadian cultural verbiage and phrases that they use at their Carnival in Trinidad.

Where is the Bahamian in that?  With 170 plus songs to choose from that Bahamian recording artists wrote and produced, you mean only Trinidadian sounding songs made the cut?  It seems to me that there was some kind of hanky panky going on there, influencing of the judges to choose Trinidadian soca material.  Why choose soca songs?  Did these judges have something against Bahamian music?

Mr. Prime Minister, it seems like you are the only one hearing us out here, please have your people address this confusion.  I have no horse in this race, I just want to see that the Bahamian people’s interest is put first.  If one or two of these soca songs are to win this song competition and is exported to the world, this sound or genre of music will represent us, represent the word, ‘Junkanoo’.  A soca sound representing Junkanoo?  Another country’s music representing Junkanoo?  Sir, that doesn’t make any sense.

Come on Festival Committee members, we will be promoted as a soca destination.  I thought our main objective was to push Bahamian Culture.  Our taxpayer dollars will be used to promote music that is not ours, exposing and biggin’ up someone else’s culture at our expense.  I hope you all understand what this means.  Unless this is what someone truly wants?  If not, then we must correct this, the music needs to suit the name, the culture, Junkanoo.

Why was the criteria of this competition not outlined that these songs must be in the musical vein of Rake-N-Scrape, Junkanoo or Goombay? A Bahamian thing!  Mr. Prime Minister, this needs to be rectified, it’s weird that this was overlooked.  The judges should have thrown out any song with music that was not identified as authentically ours.  We as Bahamians know our sound, and especially judges who are supposed to be musicians.  Furthermore, in my view the committee should still add some well-known Junkanoo songs that were mega hits, to add excitement and familiarity to this Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival album and concert event.

If others like myself and other stakeholders in the Bahamian music industry were approached on this Festival/Carnival plan much earlier this would have been a better and much smoother process.  I am also kind of disappointed in some of the well known artists and musicians who did not step up and at least let their voices be heard.  “Let me let y’all know”, to make a change taste really sweet…  To be vindicated is an awesome feeling, versus, entering a competition with questionable judging.  It couldn’t have been about the cash prize… Could it?  We could have all stood together and demanded more.

“United we stand, divided we fall.”

Once again, thank you Mr. Prime Minister for hearing us on this matter.

Kirkland H. Bodie

Posted in Opinions

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