By Syann Thompson
THE Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) criticised government for overstepping its authority in managing junkanoo parades.
The JCNP issued a statement on Facebook after what it called a slap in the face when the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Lanisha Rolle, announced a new group to Category B called The Immortals. The statement read: “The government cannot dictate, nor demand to the JCNP which group it may or may not accept membership from and in doing so have interfered in the affairs of a partnering organisation.”
The statement came after Mrs Rolle announced the new group at a seed funding presentation. The JCNP said it was stunned with the level of disrespect at this announcement which came only after the JCNP denied the new group membership; which to them was a clear indication that the minister was strong arming the JCNP. They explained that The Immortals was refused membership simply because the group had applied past the deadline to become a member group of JCNP. That deadline also happens to be the deadline set for groups participating in the upcoming 2019/2020 Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades.
As it stands, the JCNP is insisting that the group will not be recognised as a registered member of the JCNP, meaning they will not have access to entry drawing, judging or prize monies; however, they will be free to rush in the upcoming parades as a “Fun Group”.
Speaking in front of the cabinet office yesterday, Mrs Rolle did not address the subject of whether she overstepped her bounds by introducing the new group after they were refused by JCNP; but stood her ground by saying that she fully supports young Bahamians who want to participate in Junkanoo. She added that if there are young people who are ready and willing to participate in Junkanoo they should be allowed to do so.
Mrs Rolle said: “The important thing is that we want to grow Junkanoo and we want young people who want to be a part of the parade to be a part of the parade every year. Once they are organised and they pass whatever test they need to pass, we need to let them be part of the parade. I am happy for The Immortals and for any group that can participate, and I am pushing young people all the way.”
The JCNP is accusing the government of breaching a 2008 contract for the management of the New Providence parades which defines the role of the government and the JCNP. Mrs Rolle told reporters she would be grateful to see that agreement, but regardless, said the government is committed to working with all stakeholders. She also commented on the inconsistencies in the judging of last year’s parades and the need for transparency, fairness and the integrity of the process. While an investigation was launched on the bribery claims in relation to the judging of the last year’s Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parade, the findings have yet to be released.
In referring to the collaboration of the various arms responsible for governing Junkanoo, Mrs Rolle reminded reporters that the government is the primary financiers of the parades, led by the Parades Management Committee (PMC) of which the JCNP is a part. She said the PMC is responsible for allocating prize money, penalties, and disqualifications. She said the cohesiveness of these bodies is still a work in progress and hopes that all issues will be resolved.
Mrs Rolle said: “Once the committee works together with the JCNP I believe that all will be well; but it is for the good of the country, the good of the people, the good of Junkanoo and the good of culture.”