‘Remove Junkanoo from carnival’
President of the Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association Dario Tirelli said yesterday the association is going to advocate to “remove Junkanoo from carnival” as he thinks the festivals are two completely different things and including “Junkanoo” in the title is only “messing up” carnival’s image.
“We’re going to advocate to remove Junkanoo from carnival,” he said.
“It’s a different product, a different branding, and we would push the disassociation — pushing to remove Junkanoo from the brand of Carnival.”
Tirelli said, “We want Junkanoo to be Junkanoo, and we want carnival to be carnival”.
He said there should be “no tie-in” between the two festivals and combining them as one is confusing the international market.
“It’s messing up the image of carnival,” he said. “It’s confusing a lot of international persons. Even the international press are asking questions about why are Junkanoo and carnival tied in.”
Tirelli said he doesn’t think Junkanoo Carnival should be referred to by that name anymore.
Instead, he explained, the event should be rebranded as “Bahamas Carnival” which was its original name when the Christie administration first announced plans for the initiative.
“So persons know if you hear Bahamas Carnival, you’re talking about The Bahamas. If they hear Junkanoo Carnival, it doesn’t say it’s The Bahamas unless you know The Bahamas and Junkanoo,” Tirelli said.
“… So there will be no confusion. That’s the problem: we’re confusing two different products. And we want it to stand out, away from Junkanoo.”
Shortly after its creation, the government decided to rename Bahamas Carnival, Junkanoo Carnival, in the face of criticisms that the festival wasn’t Bahamian enough.
Critics suggested carnival would “dilute” Bahamian culture, and that by hosting a carnival event, The Bahamas was essentially copying a cultural event of another country.
Many said the government should provide more support to Junkanoo, rather than copy a street festival synonymous with places like Trinidad and Brazil.
But when reminded of this previous criticism, Tirelli downplayed those concerns.
“It will be Bahamian,” he said. “Bahamians are the owners, Bahamians are the producers of the costume artistry. When they [visitors] come into the country, they are going to taste, feel, hear, and touch the spirit of what it is to be Bahamian.”
Tirelli said there are differences between Junkanoo and carnival, and he believes the country’s version of carnival should stand on its own.
“Carnival is carnival and we need to list it as Bahamas Carnival, not Junkanoo Carnival, because Bahamas Carnival means there’s a carnival in The Bahamas,” he said.
“Junkanoo Carnival doesn’t say [anything] to the international market about The Bahamas. That’s a fallacy right there that persons from outside will think it’s about The Bahamas.”
In August 2014, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced what was supposed to be The Bahamas Carnival festival will instead be called Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.
When Christie first announced the event in 2013, it was met with pessimism and many said the original title was un-Bahamian.
Former Director of Culture Dr. Nicolette Bethel was one of the event’s biggest critics.
She said while she did not have a problem with the idea per se, the timing and the title were both “awful”.
Musician Kirkland “KB” Bodie also blasted the government over the festival.
He questioned why the government would earmark so much money “to be invested in another country’s culture” and whether the government is “ashamed of the nation’s number one form of cultural expression”.
At the time, cultural painter and cartoonist Stan Burnside said he is pleased the prime minister changed the title of the festival.
He said the prime minister was “very wise and visionary even” in not “making the mistake” of allowing the festival to just be called Bahamas Carnival.
Burnside said he was opposed to the previous title of the event.