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Own Our Own

pam-burnsideI was totally aghast when I heard on the news last night that the police were hassling the junkanoo groups in the Labour Day parade because they wanted to clear Bay Street in order to grant cruise ship visitors access!

What is going on, Bahamas? Can we see what we lookin’ at? Have we stopped to really think what we are doing?

Yes, we are a tourism destination, but instead of thinking INSIDE OUT, i.e. putting us – we, the people, first, we continue to look outwards for sustenance. We are in a really bad place if we are not questioning why we are forcibly shoving our own people aside, and shoving our ‘in da belly’ cultural tradition of junkanoo aside – this is a blatantly glaring example of our not having respect for who we are as a people!

How absolutely and frighteningly ironic… it is, Randol Fawkes Labour Day (and we know how long it took to get this holiday named in his honour) – a public holiday that is supposed to celebrate the Bahamian worker, and we are being treated as second class citizens in our own country on this significant day! Wake up, Bahamas!

If we believed in ourselves, and were proud of who we are as a people, if we respected our arts, culture and heritage and embraced it without question: 1) we would not be playing soca music on the Labour Day parade and waving cloths in the air; and 2) the powers that be would never think of hassling our own people in order to accommodate visitors. The balance has been totally skewered in this country….and the recent Carnival has tipped the balance even further! This is a dangerous thing that must be corrected and fast!

The police knew when the ships were coming in – anyone can find that information on line – so they should have been proactive, and made the necessary traffic diversions so that buses could get off of Bay Street. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism should have sent out a memo to the Cruise Lines letting them know that their passengers would be able to experience a rare treat when they visited on Friday – the chance to view a Labour Day junkanoo parade showcasing the costumes, music and dance of our indigenous African heritage. Those same cruise ship visitors should have been lining Bay Street to get a taste of our ‘true-true’ culture. Instead, our culture was completely ignored, with the police more concerned about ‘clearing OUR people off the street’ so that visitors can get past – are we ashamed of our heritage, of who we are as a people? Is that why we don’t want to invite our visitors to come and celebrate with us at Christmas junkanoo? Is that why we planned a Carnival instead of a Junkanoo Festival?

We were quick to throw 9 million dollars away to wholeheartedly embrace a foreign country’s Carnival right down to their soca music, scanty costumes, and disgraceful dancing which has, to my way of thinking, nothing positive to contribute to our moral standards nor to our cultural growth. Several of our political connected females even endorsed this violation of our junkanoo heritage by donning costumes for the road parade, and, as was stated on the news by Silbert Ferguson, they were given a whole day by the police to march in the road!

I did not believe that things could get any worse, but it has, and the mind boggles! Bahamas, if we do not open our eyes, question the obvious, and get ourselves back on course by respecting, embracing, and owning our own, we are speeding towards total destruction. If you are concerned about preserving and saving our Bahamian art, culture and heritage, log on to Creative Nassau,, and join us to assist in helping us stay on course and build Bahamian, by Bahamians.

Pam Burnside

Posted in Opinions

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