On October 30 community members were invited to meet the new All Abaco Junkanoo & Culture Committee – now Chaired by artist Anthony “Big Mo” Morley. The function was hosted by Rhonda Hull with the Hon. Daniel Johnson, Minister of Youth Sports & Culture, as the special guest speaker.
The Director of Culture, Dr. Moxey-Brown, and members of the National Junkanoo Committee (Mr. Wallace, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Dames) had also traveled from Nassau with the Minister for the occasion.
‘Mix & Mingle’ was the theme of the evening, a suggestion easily facilitated by the subdued lighting, the light background music and the serene surroundings of the venue.
The guests were individually greeted and invited to gather around the swimming pool where wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres were offered.
The evening’s program was announced by the Mistress of Ceremonies, the Committee Vice-Chairperson Gaynell Rolle. Pastor Edgburt Tinker pronounced the invocation, and Committee Vice-Chairman, James Richard welcomed the assembly, inviting people to socialize and enjoy the evening.
Chairman Morley then took the microphone to share his goals and his visions for the future of Junkanoo on Abaco, outlining all the positive cultural and economic outcomes that could follow.
He envisioned a Junkanoo museum, a cultural village, pageants and parades and friendly competitions between the other islands’ Junkanoo groups. He is hoping for a resurgence of Bahamian culture on Abaco.
He went on to explain that he had created a big committee to encourage cohesion and enroll the contribution of many minds and the diffusion of many creative ideas. A lot of the people involved in the committee and sub-committees are artists, photographers, writers and many have been involved with various aspects of Junkanoo for a number of years.
He introduced the immediate members of his committee, concluding that his hopes were that in ten years, Abaco will be the Junkanoo hub of The Bahamas.
A toast was offered to Minister Johnson to thank him for his visit.
The Minister approached the subject from an economical aspect, stating that Junkanoo offered a special aspect of culture that is unique to The Bahamas.
He mentioned that The Bahamas is not the number one tourist destination anymore, “we are now seventh in the Caribbean, so we need to add to the sun and sand. No one comes close to us in sports,” he said, “but we have to add art and culture.”
He explained that art and culture already exist in The Bahamas, but have not yet been taken to the world.
He confirmed that the Committee had the full support of the Ministry and promised to be back for some of the up-coming parades, the Green Turtle Cay New Year’s Day Parade and the Junior Junkanoo February Parade.
During a subsequent interview with BCN, the Minister elaborated on Mr. Morley’s vision, speaking of a cultural site where art, food and music could be offered as a package, where people could be themselves, enjoying poetry, dance and music in safe surroundings.
By the end of the evening, people shared enthusiastically in the vision of Abaco becoming a cultural center and talk of the up-coming Junkanoo parade was on everyone’s lips.
The function ended with an auction for some of Mr. Morley’s paintings, some of them of course depicting Junkanoo costumes.
The event was coordinated by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture representative on Abaco, Ishmael Morley in cooperation with Kendy McPhee- Anderson and Doranell Swain with the Ministry of Tourism and Gaynell Rolle with the All Abaco Junkanoo & Culture Committee.
Minister Johnson returned to Nassau while Dr. Moxey- Brown, Mr. Wallace, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Dames stayed on Abaco to visit some of the schools that will participate in the Love Rush Parade.
Dr. Moxey- Brown also met with some of the senior Junkanoo group leaders to hand them out a check for seed money.