One of the Informative Talks scheduled for the 10th Island Roots Festival was Shane Cash’s talk on “Bahamian Culture.”
A history teacher at Forest Heights Academy, Cash explained to the audience that there are sub-cultures and microcosms in every Bahamian community along with aspects of African, British and American culture.
During his presentation, Cash listed the national symbols of The Bahamas, different types of Bahamian cuisine, and the prevalence of festivals and celebrations that showcase who we are as a people and vary from island to island.
The popularity of Junkanoo and its origins were explored. He said that Junkanoo is arguably the greatest symbol of Bahamian culture.
Cash also spoke about Bahamian drama and famous actors like Sir Sidney Poitier, a Bahamian-American actor, film director, author, and diplomat, who became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor In 1964 for his role in Lilies of the Field.
Bahamian folklore and literature were also discussed, before Cash went on to talk about Bush Medicine and its benefits. Bahamian dialect is also a big part of Bahamian culture, so Cash offered a number of phrases to give the audience insight on how Bahamians communicate.
Of course, Bahamian athletes and sporting events were of great interest particularly with U.S. sports. With sailing as our national sport, it was no surprise that The Bahamas achieved its first gold medal in the Star class sailing with Sir Durward Knowles and Cecil Cookeat the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Then there was music, a topic Cash left for last because it something he is most passionate about. He said that Bahamian music has evolved over the years, and includes rake n’ scrape and Junkanoo music with outside influences of soca, calypso and reggae. He talked about earlier music being centered on gospel and folk music genres along with notable pioneers of Bahamian music like Joseph Spence, Blind Blake and Ronnie Butler.
As the presentation began to wind down, he emphasized that it is important to stay true to our cultural roots because it is a part of our identity as Bahamians.
Cash said: “It is important to have festivals that bring things to the forefront that we can share with visitors. They can take a piece of Bahamian culture back with them.”