PM says no changes to Junkanoo parades right now

Amid tension between the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence (JCNP) and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle over this year’s Junkanoo parades, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that the events will proceed as normal.

Minnis said the parties will all meet in February to determine the best way forward.

“I also want to say, Mr. Speaker, with respect to Junkanoo, that both the minister and I would have had ongoing discussions with the Junkanoo leaders,” he said in the House of Assembly.

“The decision is the Junkanoo will not change at this particular time. We are moving into the Junkanoo season.

“However, in February, the minister and JCNP and all the relevant agencies will enter discussions as to the way forward, so that by the end of March, we would know the way forward with respect to Junkanoo world, because changes must occur, but this must be discussed and agreed upon by all the relevant parties.”

The comments came after the JCNP accused Rolle of disrespecting the organization through her “interference” in its affairs.

In particular, it pointed to a disagreement over Rolle’s insistence to allow a new group, The Immortals, to enter the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades as a ‘B’ division group. JCNP said the group is not registered with the JCNP, and will not be allowed to compete for prize money.

However, Rolle insisted that the group’s participation should not be an issue and said there should be a focus on growing Junkanoo.

The prime minister’s statement yesterday suggests that the minister’s decision on the matter will not stand.

In a statement on Monday, the JCNP said the government or the minister cannot dictate to it which group it may or may not accept membership from.

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. [I]f 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.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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