On July 16, 2020, the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture “The Ministry” has been advised by the Ministry of Health, regarding the National Junkanoo Parades as follows:
“Given the current status of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health cannot lend support to the hosting of this cultural activity at this time. “
In light of the preceding, the Min. of Youth, Sports, and Culture wishes to provide an update regarding the ongoing discussions. Together with the Office of The Prime Minister, the Ministry has engaged a series of meetings with stakeholders of the Junkanoo Community to consider the best alternatives for celebrating the country’s beloved and premier cultural expression, “Junkanoo.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic has negatively impacted the way of life for communities around the world. In particular, the rapid spread of the disease has interrupted entertainment and cultural activities everywhere. Festivals the world over have been either canceled or postponed with the overriding objective to ‘keep people safe.’ International and local health officials have recommended ‘physical distancing’ as an effective measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease as there are no preventative medicines or full proof treatments.
Notwithstanding the successful results obtained by local health officials regarding containing the spread, we have unfortunately experienced an uptick of confirmed cases since the opening of our borders. The health and safety of our citizens, residents, and visitors are paramount to this government and its decision-making. Hence, considering the volatile state of affairs surrounding the COVID-19 phenomena, we must err on the side of caution and stand with our sister Ministry of Health. Further, it has been predicted that the effects of the pandemic are likely to continue up to the end of 2021.
Despite our country’s active management of the spread of COVID-19, many businesses are struggling to rebound, the hotel industry and the wider tourism sector virtually remain at astand-still. However, as a Ministry, we are confident that the COVID-19 Pandemic dilemma is but for a season, and together our industries, our economy and our nation will rebound.
We commend the representative groups of the Junkanoo Community for the creation and publication of a number of professional, culturally intriguing, and creative ‘Virtual Junkanoo Presentations.’ The videos currently circulating on multiple social media platforms have received high commendation from virtual spectators, locally and internationally. From all indications, virtual reality for the entertainment of large crowds seems to reflect the new norm. The Junkanoo community comprises a reservoir of knowledgable, creative, and gifted
Bahamians who are resilient and resourceful.
We anticipate that emerging from this new reality, Junkanooers will marshall their efforts and embrace this opportunity to integrate technology to transform Junkanoo in a way that will capture the essence and spirit of Junkanoo as a unique Bahamian cultural expression. We encourage every Bahamian and Junkanoo stakeholder to support the Stay Safe Virtual Parade Platform that will preserve this unique expression of our cultural heritage in the form of creative arts, rhythm, dance and the pulsating sounds of the goatskin drums and cowbells vital to creating a quality Junkanoo Parade experience. Guided by the Min. of Health, The Min., supported by the National Junkanoo Committee, and partnership with the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence together with the wider Junkanoo Community throughout the islands of The Bahamas stand unified in strategizing a Strategic Plan to relaunch physical Junkanoo activities commencing Spring, 2021.
To assist with the execution of an agreed and approved Strategic Plan for the Relaunch of Junkanoo, the Government of The Bahamas has made a 2020/2021 budgetary allocation. The Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture and, by extension, the Government of The Bahamas
remains steadfast in our commitment to supporting our Junkanoo community and investing in the preservation of our ‘premier’ cultural expression.