A LOCAL wag recently quipped that all nakedness would be covered and everyone’s temperatures lowered if our junkanoo performers would in future gyrate up and down Bay Street in their pyjamas instead of the almost-there “costumes” that seem to have so many commentators — ourselves included — bent out of shape.
What a capital idea!
All the dancers would have to do would be to paste colourful flowing crepe paper onto their pyjamas, and not only would they be covered from head to toe, but they would take us back to the original junkanoo — Bahamian style.
Imagine the throb of the drums, the ker-lick of the cow bells, and a swirling kaleidoscope of colour moving up Bay Street as each group of dancers — a different colour to represent each island – flows along the parade route. The floats, which were a fairly recent addition to the original junkanoo, would be limited in size so that there would be a constant movement up Bay Street and down Shirley Street without a break in the rhythm of dancers, drums, whistles and cow bells.
The musicians say they want to showcase Bahamian music. This would be a golden opportunity for our musicians and dancers to move centre stage without introducing the depravity of the Trinidad carnival, so often referred to in these discussions as a seeming model to be emulated.
As a letter writer comments on this page today, “the natural evolutionary course of Bahamian junkanoo was forever altered about 18 years ago when ‘cultural icons’ Vola Francis and Gus Cooper began to frequent Trinidad’s Carnival. Seemingly bankrupt of original ideas to further develop junkanoo, they began to infuse elements of Trinidad’s carnival and Mardi Gras into junkanoo with beads, feathers, increasing amounts of cloth, etc. The term that was used to promote these ideas was junkanoo ‘tricks’. It has been difficult to re-Bahamianise junkanoo ever since.”
However, now is the opportunity. It’s up to Bahamians to seize the moment, although it’s rather late in the day with Junkanoo Carnival only two months away – April 6 for Grand Bahama and May 7-9 for Nassau – for organisers to still be squabbling over the type of programme and big-name performer they want to draw visitors to The Bahamas
The Christian Council has quite rightly raised the red flag. It has warned that the immodest costumes that their members have seen in the advertising campaigns to date will lead to “sins of the flesh.” The Council has condemned women’s sexuality as “being overtly exploited for monetary gain”.
“We do not share the view that our women should be on display as objects; accordingly, we call on all concerned to resist the push to treat our mothers, daughters and sisters with such gutter-like disrespect,” said the Council.
The Council has been condemned for entertaining such principled thoughts.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, who is desperately grasping for any mega event that he can find to boost Bahamas tourism, says he is not concerned with any negative issues surrounding the festival. However, a carnival-style junkanoo seems to be the “mega” idea to promote the “true identity of Bahamian culture”.
Brazil’s Carnival is also Brazil’s “mega” idea, so “mega” that at their Carnival this year they are distributing three million condoms with fancy bags in which to carry them to protect themselves against what our Christian Council has referred to as the “sins of the flesh.”
According to Mr Wilchcombe, Prime Minister Christie has asked to become “more involved” in the event. According to Mr Wilchcombe, Mr Christie will ensure that more Bahamian culture is added to the mix. This raises an interesting question? What do these men call Bahamian culture, in fact what is Bahamian culture?
They talk of Bahamian culture in one breath, but on the next street corner it is being said that the government wants to invite Rihanna, a native of Barbados, who seems to have no qualms in displaying her nakedness, to preside over our first Junkanoo Carnival.
If this is a trial balloon being sent up to test the waters, we hope that Messrs Christie and Wilchcombe quickly shoot it down. However, if this is in fact true, then Talls Pines MP Leslie Miller was too quick to apologise for suggesting that this type of carnival could have a negative impact on our youth by being sexually suggestive. Mr Miller said he had “no appetite” for the festival’s sexually charged nature, which he had seen in Trinidad.
“I saw a lot of vulgarity, people were, I don’t want to say hitting on each other, but almost a sexual situation in broad daylight,” he said in total disgust.
He was condemned by Mr Christie, and almost within 24 hours had apologised for his misspoken words. He called it ignorance on his part.
Mr Christie seemed to justify the carnival-style costumes by questioning whether critics who have denounced the skimpy dress had ever seen the carnival outfits worn by Bahamians at our own junkanoo. Mr Christie suggested that Bahamian Junkanoo regularly has vulgar acts on display and questioned if critics of the new festival have attended the annual Bay Street parades.
Does Mr Christie believe that because our own junkanoo “regularly has vulgar acts” it should justify an expansion of vulgarity to boost the economy, create employment and turn Bahamians into “superstars”?
We think not.
And so that no one can plead ignorance about the depravity to which we refer we invite them to go to YouTube and see for themselves how the singer, Rihanna, who each year leads her native Barbados carnival, seems to delight in sexual “garbage” – as Mr Miller so rightly termed it until he was muzzled.
We would hope that the Prime Minister, who wants to get into the carnival mix, and Mr Wilchcombe, who wants a mega event, would not dare spend our hard earned taxes on such a snake-pit of sin. There is nothing wrong with a junkanoo carnival. But, if Mr Wilchcombe wants a mega event the Bahamas carnival could shine as that event by lifting our show to a higher level of true art, rather than dragging an already morally depraved youth to even greater depths of lascivious behaviour.
And so that no one can claim ignorance of whereof we speak, go to your computer, or whatever gadget you use to keep in touch with the world, click on to YouTube, and another click on to “Rihanna Crop Over Dirty Dancing” — you will then see exactly what Mr Miller tried to describe, only instead of Trinidad the scene is set in Barbados and led by a half naked woman with her body writhing in every sexual movement one can imagine — it is beyond vulgar. Then, if that’s not enough, you can turn to The Daily Mail, where there is Rihanna Crop Over dirty dancing and another programme – Rihanna smokes weed.
We would be surprised if Mr Christie would be so bold as to have his reputation attached to such smut. Before it is too late, we suggest that all of you politicians get on your knees, think again and raise this country’s ambitions to a higher plain. Give Mr Wilchcome his mega event, but on such a high level of art that the world will have to stop and take a look.