EDITOR, The Tribune
As a citizen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, I have a strong conviction that the Prime Minister and his government’s pre-occupation with launching Carnival in The Bahamas as the premier cultural experience for visitors from around the globe is misplaced, and dead wrong.
In fact, I seriously consider it an affront, an insult to the people of The Bahamas for our leaders to go foreign to copy a brand name for our things. Let me hasten to say, to their credit the Prime Minister and the government have the right idea: designing and implementing a policy to launch a sustained National Festival to showcase the full range of cultural experiences indigenous to The Bahamas nationally, is a timely innovation given our comparative advantage in tourism, our current economic plight, the need for us to eclipse our first 40 years of independence, and to leverage a better future for our fourth generation during the next 40 years.
However, it is dead wrong for us Bahamians to showcase our culture to the world under the wrong brand name – Carnival. I think the PM and the government ought to stop, review and cancel the proposed Carnival, and replace it with “J-U-N-K-A-N-O-O: the Bahamian Cultural Festival!” It is not a copy of anything ... it’s an original, unique creation and worthy of emulating The Bahamas; it’s we tings!
I listened to Kirkland H Bodie on ‘Morning Coffee’ on Monday morning and I was proud to be a Bahamian. “KB” was passionate about the government getting the Carnival ting right by investing in Bahamian culture through Junkanoo. He literally called for a boycott by artisans of the proposed Carnival.
I share his passion and patriotism: that is why for more than a year, I have been trying to influence the government and the PM to brand the proposed Carnival properly by calling it by the right name: “J-U-N-K-A-N-O-O: the Bahamian Cultural Festival.” I salute KB for being a young, visionary professional artist and a true patriot.
A little over a year ago, I posted the following on Facebook: “NATIONAL JUNKANOO FESTIVAL?
I have an idea after listening to a musician on a talk show on Guardian Radio this morning (29 May, 2013). How about instead of Junkanoo being centred around two parades, how about taking the whole concept of junkanoo as our main cultural expression to the next level by establishing the National Junkanoo Festival beginning 12 days before Christmas and climaxing with the New Year’s Day Junkanoo parade?
How about three parades forming the centrepiece of the Festival: Junior Junkanoo, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades? How about competition between artists from every segment of the arts to showcase Bahamian creativity, including straw work, woodcarving, entertaining, song-writing, singing, dance, aspects of junkanoo, for example cow-belling, pasting?
How about this being a part of the new Junkanoo Festival? How about including as many complimentary activities and events as possible over the 18-day period? How about sprucing up fan participation at the three parades by designing at least one free-for-all rush out session (probably midway) where freelancers and fans can simply have a great time while the junkanooers take a much needed break?
How about promoting our new Junkanoo Festival to the world the way the Trinnies promote Carnival, Badians promote Crop Over, and Yardies promote Reggae Splash? How about the National Junkanoo Festival being celebrated on all islands during the same period? How about promoting the National Junkanoo Festival strongly to our guests and future guests?
How about using our ingenuity to advance us economically? I believe that a National Junkanoo Festival will add significant value to the Bahamian brand in the global tourism market, and assist with stimulating much needed economic growth while strengthening our communities and providing productive opportunities for our youth. How about a bright new idea – a National Junkanoo Festival - instead of just Junkanoo?”
Since then, I improved upon the model. I suggested that we set-up the National Cultural Festival called “J-U-N-K-A-N-O-O: the Bahamian Cultural Festival” as follows:
1 Pre-season: events including competition in all aspects of culture eg sculling, boat-building, music, costume building, dance, cow-belling, art and craft, straw work, wood carving, fishing, farming, cooking, textiles — authentically Bahamian.
2 J-U-N-K-A-N-O-O 2014/15: beginning 12 days before Christmas, and ending January 1st - New Year’s Day - including the finals in pre-season competitions, and the three Junkanoo Parades.
3 Post-season: events running from January 2 to the date that the pre-season events begins (maybe July - the first event can be the Independence Junkanoo Rush-out). Literally Junkanoo all year round!
For me, Freddie Munnings Jr put the icing on the cake when he advanced the proposition recently that Junkanoo must move to the next level by having it produced and staged as a global event. Put all of this together and Bahamas... we have a winner that can literally change our fortunes, forever.
I challenge the PM and the government to brand the Bahamian Cultural Festival correctly, and I guarantee that it will be a winner because everything flows from the branding. We are in tourism – our bread and butter; this proposed festival dovetails nicely with our duty to sell The Bahamas a preferred destination to the world.
Let’s get the business model right: we are selling The Bahamas and what makes us Bahamians. Our brand must speak to the inescapable theme that strings it all together in one neat bundle – Bahamian culture, which Junkanoo epitomises.
A national competition can be organised to select an indigenous brand name for the National Cultural Festival. This is big enough to involve literally, all a we. Give the youth a chance to become involved by letting them name their/our cultural festival.
My suggestion is “Junkanoo - the Bahamian Cultural Festival”. Think about it and then let us do what is right ... Bahamas!
Thank you. Yours patriotically,
KINGSLEY L BLACK
June 18, 2014