Junkanoo is the highlight of the year in The Bahamas. The time when young and old Bahamians come together to showcase our culture in music, rhythm and dance.
What is Junkanoo you ask? Junkanoo, a Bahamian national festival, is a kaleidoscope of colour and sound. The rhythmic sounds of cowbells, goat skin drums and whistles, accompanied by an array of brass instruments, create a sweet musical beat that will move you; while brilliantly coloured costumes capture your eye, and bring much visual delight. This bi-annual cultural highlight takes place on Bay Street in New Providence and other Family Islands during the early morning hours, from 1:00a.m. – 9:00a.m. on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and New Year’s Morning. Junkanoo can also be experienced on many celebrated occasions such as independence Day (July 10th), and there is also a Junior Junkanoo Parade in December, held in New Providence.
I remember clearly the days when my brothers and I would paste our costumes for hours on end in run up to the Junkanoo parade, paying close attention to the rules. Costumes begin with a selection of a theme. Designers then create patterns on cardboard, which is the base of the costumes. Once the costumes’ structure is complete, hundreds of brilliantly coloured layers of fringed crepe paper are meticulously pasted on. The fringe effect is what adds texture and dimension to these elaborate costumes. We were a part of the enviable group The Valley boys. I looked forward to dancing in the streets with the other girls to a cleaverly choreographed routine, as we were judged on poise, talent and rhythm. Those were fantastic memories and every year the groups get larger and larger, all vying for the grand cash prize. After the parade the preparations starts again for the following year.
Junkanoo will always be dear to me and something I can be proud of as a Bahamian.