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Zion Baptist Honours Island Traditions

Zion Baptist Church is hosting a special programme this Sunday to celebrate nearly forgotten Bahamian island traditions.

The event is called the Edith Walkine Old Fashioned Programme and it will start at 4pm at the historic church located on East and Shirley Streets.

The programme is the brainchild of the late Edith Walkine who was a prominent member of Zion. The main objective of the event is to preserve the spiritual aspects of the cultural heritage of the different islands of The Bahamas.

Many families have their roots in the Family Islands and migrated to New Providence for economic reasons. Even though all Bahamians share a commonality of culture, each Family Island has its own unique ways of doing things and expression that culture. There are distinct differences in how words are pronounced and accentuated among the islands.

In the Family Islands, church and Sunday School attendance was non-negotiable. The seasons of Christmas, Easter and Emancipation were usually celebrated in programmes held in churches or at the all-age school house. Everyone would be dressed in their finest. Children gave recitations, sang songs and acted in skits. Parents and grandparents would “throw money” after these renditions, especially if they were made proud by their offspring.

Family Island residents were also known for their singing abilities. The jury is still out on whether it Cat Island or Exuma has the best singers. Most women from Crooked Island can play the organ and are known for their shyness. Cat Island and Exuma are still competing to see who has the smartest folk, and Acklins Islanders love to live in two-storey houses.

There are foods which are indigenous to certain islands. For example, Cat Island is known for its flour cakes; Long Island for its mutton souse; Andros for crab and dough; Grand Bahama for boiled fish; Eleuthera for its pineapple tarts, and Acklins for guinea corn grits.

Immediately following Sunday’s programme, many of these island dishes will be available at the church free of charge.

The programme will feature groups representing their islands by singing, reciting and rushing. This is not be confused with the Junkanoo rushing; there is a big difference. Gerald and The Boys will assist in providing the rushing music.

“Too many of these Bahamian traditions are being lost due to acculturation of city life and foreign influences,” said the church. “Come rekindle the ties to your island and hometown people in a time of fun and fellowship as we give God thanks for His blessings upon us as a people.”

Emcees for the event will be Rev Randolph Beneby and Sister Royanne Morrison. The public is invited to attend and dress in styles from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

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