Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe
169 total votes.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchombe declared that the number one aim of the inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is to promote the “true identity of Bahamian culture”. He said he is “not at all concerned” with any negative issues surrounding the festival.
He said despite recent assertions by anti-Carnival groups, the government is working to build a platform to display true “Bahamianism” because that is what will separate the Bahamas’ tourism product from competitors.
According to Mr Wilchcombe, the Carnival Commission led by Paul Major has a strong foundation that is holding things together and moving along in the process of making certain that the culture of the Bahamas becomes renowned around the globe.
He indicated that the government, the Ministry of Tourism and the Carnival Commission are all “rising above negatives” and positioning themselves to promote the festival as a “mega event to promote what the Bahamas has to offer.”
“We want to get every recording artist that we have on stage. We want to get our people out there. We want people to see how good our people are.”
The West End and Bimini MP said the mega event concept has been successful at promoting culture and identity for many countries around the world.
He said: “Mega events are working all over the world, mega events like the Olympics, mega events like festivals, festivals of a grand scale. So the truth is we are hoping that it helps us market the Bahamas, but more importantly market who we are.”
He added: “We have to appreciate that the Bahamas is a very complex country to market because we have Nassau, we have Grand Bahama, we have Abaco, we have all these different islands. So how do we get the message out? You can’t do it in a 30 second ad, so you have to find ways to cause it to happen. One way to do it is through entertainment.”
Junkanoo Carnival has in recent weeks come under a lot of scrutiny. Last week, it was revealed that the members of the Carnival Commission were seeking to pay American pop star Janet Jackson $1.9 million to perform during the week of activities, a proposal that was rejected by the government.
Three members of the Carnival Commission recently resigned; two of them, Ed Fields and Freddie Munnings, reportedly left the commission due to issues with the government and the other, Inga Bowleg, reportedly needed more time to devote to her career.
Then came news that the Bahamas Christian Council would not support the “immodest” costumes for the planned event, saying the scant attire could lead to “fornication, promiscuity, rape incest” and other “sins of the flesh.”
That led Mr Wilchcombe to defend the festival, stressing that the celebration would encourage “Bahamianism” and not “sins of the flesh.” Mr Wilchcombe added the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival Commission would take “into consideration” all concerns voiced by the Christian Council.
Junkanoo Carnival will be a series of cultural events scheduled to take place in April and May.
Officials have indicated it will cost $9m to stage the event. Last week, it was revealed that only $1.5m has been spent so far.