Roots wants Junkanoo judging change

ROOTS pictured during the New Year Junkanoo parade. Photos: Austin Fernander

ROOTS pictured during the New Year Junkanoo parade. Photos: Austin Fernander



MEMBERS of The Roots have called for the “abolition” of Junkanoo’s “flawed” judging system, adding it is overdue to be changed.

Duane Ellis, deputy chairman of Roots, told The Tribune on Monday that the group was not protesting One Family’s win of the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades, however, they had an issue with the judging system.

“We’re not protesting the results in terms of who won the parade or lost the parade. The group did a post mortem and we were going through some of the issues we had. The main concern that we have is with the judging system that is currently in place, (it) has a lot of flaws in it,” Mr Ellis said.

Roots also held a press conference on Monday where they lambasted the judging system, saying it is filled with errors.

Mr Ellis claimed that multiple judges were disqualified during the Junkanoo parades for a range of infractions, adding there is a concern with the validity and reliability of scores that came from the judges.

He added that there was also some inconsistency in judging during the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades.

“Inconsistency with the scores of judges, versus in the category. If you have four judges, three judges would have given you a 95 or 98 average and then here comes a fourth judge giving you a 50. In the past, we used to throw out the high and lows and go with the average scores in each category.

“But due to the lack of numbers there’s a projected number that we use each parade for judges. But this year we didn’t make the quota with that and secondly a lot of persons didn’t show up. Judging for this year was really short.”

Mr Ellis said the Roots were not in any way trying to challenge One Family’s deserved wins. The group is instead seeking more accountability and transparency as it relates to the judging scoring system, he said.

Mr Ellis said that it’s “no secret” that the Valley Boys and Saxons have always had advantage over the other groups, claiming it has left other A groups overlooked.

The Roots in a press statement on Monday also suggested the “abolition” of the judging system and the inclusion of foreign judges.

“The executive steering board of Roots Junkanoo group suggests the abolition of the present judging system in favour of a more objective system. We believe, as so many others do, that trained professionals are better able to judge music, choreography and art design.

“It remains a myth that only Bahamians can judge Junkanoo and we encourage the inclusion of professionals from North America and other Caribbean nations who may have similar artforms. The inclusion of international professionals and media would add further international exposure to the cultural expression we call Junkanoo similar to what has been done in our carnival parades,” the statement said.

For his part, Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) chairman Dion Miller said he believes the judging system is effective, adding there’s nothing wrong with it.

“In my humble opinion there isn’t anything wrong with the system,” he said.

He noted that the Roots mentioned judges had been disqualified during the parade and argued this showed the system is working.

“Judges were disqualified, or scores were thrown out for various infractions so that shows that the system itself works.”

Mr Miller said at the beginning of the year the members of the Junkanoo groups decide which method the parades will be judged on, adding the process for judges was detailed.

“We started with 264 applicants, after groups would have investigated these persons we were left with 84 judges. So we went from 264 judges, down to 84 judges. Those 84 judges that passed the vetting from the groups then had to attend a six-week judges training course.”

Mr Miller dismissed claims that the scores were inconsistent as he explained judges have the right to be “objective” and have an opinion.

“We can’t tell a judge how he or she must judge,” Mr Miller said.

Asked if the JCNP was open to recommendations made by Roots, Mr Miller responded: “Every year we review and look back into any manner of recommendations that groups would have put forward. The JCNP is inclusive of all groups, it is not a secret society or secret body that makes rules up. The various groups come up with these rules, the various groups that make recommendations.”

He said recommendations can be used once the majority votes for them to be enacted.

One Family emerged as the unofficial winner of the New Year’s Day and Boxing Day Parades.

In the Boxing Day Parade, Roots placed fourth with 86.52 points and on New Year’s Day Roots finished third with 90.61 points.

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