NASSAU, BAHAMAS — National Junkanoo parades may see a Spring 2021 revival as officials seek to bolster its virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture noted projections that the effects of the pandemic are likely to continue up to the end of 2021.
It advised the ministry has engaged a series of meetings with stakeholders of the Junkanoo Community, along with the Office of The Prime Minister, to consider the best alternatives for celebrating the country’s “beloved and premier cultural expression”.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic has negatively impacted the way of life for communities around the world,” the statement read.
“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.
It continued: “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.”
The ministry underscored many businesses are struggling to rebound, and the hotel industry and the wider tourism sector virtually remain at a stand-still despite the country’s active management of the virus’ spread.
“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 statement read.
“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 marshal 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.”
The statement continued: “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 Ministry of Health, The Ministry, supported by the National Junkanoo Committee, and partnership with the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) 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.”
The statement noted the government set out a 2020/2021 budgetary allocation to support the execution of an agreed and approved strategic plan for the relaunch of Junkanoo.