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Junkanoo corporation feels disrespected by culture minister

Members of the Shell Saxons Superstars during a Juankanoo rush out. FILE

The Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) said it has “lost all trust” in Culture Minister Lanisha Rolle, noting that her ministry has disrespected the organization by its attempts to interfere in the JCNP’s affairs.

“The JCNP and its member groups are stunned by the level of disrespect the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture [has] displayed towards Junkanoos during its recent seed funding presentation,” the organization said in a statement on Monday.

“First the presentation held today is three months overdue. In past years, the ministry along with the JCNP and Junkanoo leaders agreed to the seed funding disbursement which is held in August of each year.”

However, Rolle shot that down yesterday.

She said she has no record of the seed money ever being distributed in August.

“Last year, I think we distributed in September and they said that was the earliest ever,” Rolle said.

“So, again that’s new information for me. But again, there were some proposals and there were some considerations and talks late in September between the government and the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence and we certainly did not want to move without being settled as it relates to where we’re moving forward.

“…The position is still let us continue with the rules that have been established, the practice and the customs that all will be well with everyone.”

The JCNP also raised concerns with Rolle’s recent announcement that a new Junkanoo group, The Immortals, would be entered into the Boxing Day Parade and New Year’s Day Parade as a ‘B’ division group.

“The JCNP and its members wish to advise the public that the JCNP does not recognize this group as it is not a registered member of the JCNP; hence that group will not participate in the order of entry drawing, nor will they be judged for exhibition or for prize monies. However, The Immortals [group] is free to rush in the upcoming parades as a fun group,” it said.

“The facts of the matter are as follows: The Immortals Junkanoo group applied past the established deadline to become a member group of the JCNP and participate in the upcoming 2019/2020 Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades.

“The member groups of the JCNP which consists of seven category A groups, 13 category B groups, and 18 individual association members voted and rejected the application on the basis of a late submittal.”

The organization noted that it had informed the new group of the body’s decision.

The JCNP said the government or the minister cannot dictate to it which group it may or may not accept membership from.

It accused the minister of interfering in its affairs.

In response, Rolle said that “it should not be an issue”.

She said the Parade Management Committee (PMC), of which the JCNP is a part, should be able to work together on “those matters”.

“I think working together is the best way to resolve any issue,” the minister said.

Rolle added, “The important thing is we want to grow Junkanoo and we want young people who want to be part of the parade, to be a part of the parade every year… If there were five groups and they are organized, they have passed whatever tests that [have] been established, allow them to be a part.”

She also noted that the government is the primary financier of the Junkanoo parades.

“So, that body (PMC) decides in terms of allocation of prize monies, that body decides in terms of penalties and disqualification and that body will determine it,” Rolle said.

“It won’t be any particular entity or private entity or particular grouping. So, it’s working together and it’s a work in process.”

Agreement

In January, the JCNP asked the police to investigate claims that some judges of the 2018 Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade and 2019 New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade took bribes.

Then JCNP President Silbert Ferguson said an internal committee had also been established to look into the allegations.

At the time, he said the investigation would take 14 to 30 days.

However, Rolle said yesterday that based on information she received, “nothing” came out of that investigation.

“That’s why it’s so important that not only one entity determines these matters, but that it’s a transparent process and multiple entities or stakeholders, who should be involved, are involved at all times,” she said.

“It’s a collaborative effort and it just can’t be one particular entity.”

The JCNP lambasted the government for its “intention to restructure the Parade Management Committee giving the PMC control of critical aspects of the parade management such as oversight of the judges’ course, rules, amongst other things”.

The organization said the move was done without consulting the JCNP.

“The JCNP appointed a Parades Management Team (PMT) in August 2019,” it noted.

“To date this team has been working to produce these parades, conducting training sessions with the parade task forces and coordinating the judges’ course which is [scheduled] to be [concluded] next week.”

It continued, “The management agreement clearly defines the role of the JCNP and the role of the government. The JCNP finds it highly insulting that the government of The Bahamas seven weeks before the parades will attempt to undermine several aspects of the agreement without consulting the JCNP and its members.”

In response, Rolle said she would be “grateful to have a copy” of the agreement to which the JCNP referred, noting that she did not have one.

“…Then secondly, the government is going to continue to work with all stakeholders,” she said.

“However, we note some anomalies last year in terms of the judging. And the public is looking and depending on the government to ensure transparency, fairness and the integrity of the process for which the people invest in every year.

“And as minister of culture, I seek to support the position and mandate of the government in doing just that with all of our stakeholders.”

The minister said she wants to ensure that there is “trust and integrity in the parade that [people] pay to come and see”.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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