Junkanoo

#PhotoReCap Junkanoo Boxing Day 2019

After centuries of practice, today’s cultural extravaganzas have become the most entertaining street carnivals of not only The Bahamas but also the world at large.

With the costumes, dance, and music inspired by a different theme each time, preparations for the Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and summertime Junkanoo literally take months and bring together men and women from all different walks of life.

Junkanoo evolved from the days of slavery. Loyalists who migrated to The Bahamas in the late 18th Century brought their African slaves with them. The slaves were given three days off during the Christmas season, which they used to celebrate by singing and dancing in colorful masks, travelling from house to house, often on stilts. Junkanoo nearly vanished after slavery was abolished, but the revival of the festival in The Bahamas now provides entertainment for many thousands.


Boxing Day

#PhotoReCap Bahamas New Year’s Junkanoo 2019

#PhotoRecap Boxing Day Junkanoo 2018

It’s a little unknown fact. God loves Junkanoo, with all the threats of rain through the twelve-hour presentation the weather held up in favour of the parade. This year’s Boxing Day celebration was underwhelming for seasoned attendees. While the Junkanoo Committee and the sponsors attempted to keep the night moving with more interactive elements there was still a lot of dead air and long breaks in between the main attractions.

However, the main attractions didn’t fall short on creativity, performance and sound. Larger piece (all hand crafted) were exquisitely detailed. There were even some surprises that made the morning memorable.

Check out these photo captures of the 2018 Boxing Day Junkanoo parade in Nassau, Bahamas.

 

Junkanoo Defined

(chiefly in Jamaica, Belize, and the Bahamas) a masquerade held at Christmas, consisting of a street procession of characters in traditional costumes and dancing to drums, bells, and whistle.

Junkanoo is a street parade with music, dance, and costumes of Akan origin in many islands across the Bahamasevery Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day (January 1), the same as “Kakamotobi” or the Fancy Dress Festival. The largest Junkanoo parade happens in the capital Nassau, New Providence.  Dances are choreographed to the beat of goatskin drums and cowbells.

The festival may have originated several centuries ago, when slaves on plantations in The Bahamas celebrated holidays granted around Christmas time with dance, music, and costumes. After emancipation the tradition continued and junkanoo evolved from simple origins to a formal, organised parade with intricate costumes, themed music and official prizes within various categories.

The origin of the word junkanoo is disputed. Theories include that it is named after a folk hero named John Canoe or that it is derived from the French gens inconnus (unknown people) as masks are worn by the revelers.[3] Douglas Chambers, professor of African studies at the University of Southern Mississippi, suggests a possible Igbo origin from the Igbo yam deity Njoku Ji referencing festivities in time for the new yam festival. Chambers also suggests a link with the Igbo okonkomasking tradition of southern Igboland which feature horned maskers and other masked characters in similar style to jonkonnu masks.[4] Similarities with the Yoruba Egungun festivals have also been identified.[5] However, an Akan origin is more likely because the celebration of the Fancy Dress Festivals/Masquerades are the same Christmas week(Dec 25- Jan 1st) and also John Canoe was in fact an existing king and hero that ruled Axim, Ghana before 1720, the same year the John Canoe festival was created in the Caribbean.[6]

According to Edward Long, an 18th-century Jamaican slave owner/historian, the John Canoe festival was created in Jamaica and the Caribbean by enslaved Akans who backed the man known as John Canoe. John Canoe, from Axim, Ghana, was an Akan from the Ahanta. He was a soldier for the Germans, until one day he turned his back on them for his Ahanta people and sided with Nzima and Ashanti troops, in order to take the area from the Germans and other Europeans. The news of his victory reached Jamaica and he has been celebrated ever since that Christmas of 1708 when he first defeated Prussic forces for Axim. Twenty years later his stronghold was broken by neighbouring Fante forces aided by the military might of the British and Ahanta, Nzima and Ashanti captives were taken to Jamaica as prisoners of war. The festival itself included motifs from battles typical of Akan fashion. The Ashanti swordsman became the “horned headed man”; the Ashanti commander became “Pitchy patchy” who also wears a battledress with what would resemble charms, referred to as a “Batakari”.

 

Going Down on Bay Julien Believe (Bahamas)

Julien Believe and Angelique Sabrina deliver vibrant visuals for their 2018 release of “Going Down on Bay”. The Junkanoo heavy song has a pop feel that makes it palatable for mainstream consumption. However, if the Junkanoo drums don’t get you the video will definitely capture your attention.

From a cultural perspective, the video captures the nuances that make Bahamian Junkanoo unique. Just in time for the holiday season “Going Down on Bay” is the perfect marketing tool for the Bahamas’ biggest cultural event of the year. Enjoy the video and meet us down on Bay Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 for Junkanoo in Nassau, Bahamas.

Jamal Rolle paints a masterpiece live at the Julien Believe video release party for going down on bay. Bahamas

Painting of Bahamian Music Icon Ronnie Butler

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#LifeOfaLegend 30 Carnival Tour Bahamas Junkanoo

Giselle the Wassi One presents the Life of a Legend 30 Carnival tour.  The tour is a celebration of her 30 years as a carnival icon and the multi-cultural experience of a shared diaspora.

Bahamas Dec. 26, 2016

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