The Minister of Sports and Culture, Danny Johnson, arrived in Marsh Harbour on the morning of Friday, September 21 to promote culture on Abaco. He also made his case to educators to ensure that local schools participated in the February 2013 Love Rush Parade. He visited several schools and attended a meeting that evening.
Minister Johnson was accompanied by several members of the National Junkanoo Committee, the Deputy-Chairman, Mr. Gerorge Bethell, Mr. Percy “Vola” Francis, Chairman of the Junior Junkanoo Committee and Mr. Eddie Dames, Assistant-Director of Culture and Chairman of the Senior Junkanoo Committee. The delegation was met at the airport by the representative of the Miinistry of Sports, Mr. Ishmael “Stretch” Morley.
The first stop on the agenda was Forest Heights Academy, last year’s winner of the Abaco Junior Junkanoo Parade, where the visitors were received by Principal James Richard and the Art Teacher, Lori Thompson. Ms. Thompson’s efforts were crucial to the success of her students last year and she assured the Minister that the school would participate in the 2013 parade since she had already started fund raising. She also said that a theme had been chosen.
Ms. Thompson lamented the fact that next year’s Parade will fall on the Hugh Campbell Basketball Championship weekend, which will prevent some of the students from participating in the parade and asked that the date of the parade be rescheduled.
At Wesley College, Rev. Charles Carey, school Principal and teacher, welcomed the delegation in a classroom in session. He had a trio of students comprised of Terran Edgecombe, Charles Carey Jr. and Donavan Hepburn play a musical piece for the visitors.
He talked about the organization of his school and his side-interest in agriculture: the room was scented with the smell of guavas that he offered to the visitors upon their leaving. He mentioned how culture had always been incorporated in the curriculum of the school in the form of music and dance.
At Central Abaco primary School, Minister Johnson used his most convincing arguments to convince the Principal, Rodney Smith and the Vice-Principal, Beatrice Moxey, to pledge their participation in next year’s parade. Because of the number of students, the Minister agreed to increase the seed money. But, he argued, money alone should not be the reason for non-participation.
“Looking at the point of view of culture, we want to teach pride to the kids,” he said. “Go back to the old ways; teach them the spirit that no matter what, we can perform”.
The Vice Principal agreed that costumes could be made of newspapers and flour and admitted that kids had already made up songs to Junkanoo beats. The Minister stressed the point that culture was the common denominator that linked the three predominant racial entities on Abaco: black Bahamians, white Bahamians and Haitian Bahamians.
Mr. Smith invited the delegation to visit some of the classrooms where the delegates interacted with the children.
For the last several years music has always been of major importance at Abaco Central High School, so the music teacher, Jamal McIntosh, was invited to attend the meeting that took place in the office of Principal Ricardo Ferguson.