Saxons Superstars Leader Percy ‘Vola’ Francis said yesterday after over 20 years of applying for land to create a headquarters, he was glad to see that the group was finally granted Crown land where a “world-class tourist attraction” will emerge.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis granted the 3.01 acres off Fire Trail Road west after the group “ensured due process was followed”, according to Francis.
“We were able to identify the land, a different piece of land, because we had problems with the previous one that we had actually wanted to occupy,” he said.
“So we identified the property and took all of the necessary steps. Firstly, the incorporation of the organization was key.”
Francis said despite Minnis being a member of the Saxons for 25 years, there was no favoritism shown to the group as any group is able to apply for Crown land.
“For the last 28 to 30 years now we’ve been promised land,” Francis said.
“All of the Junkanoo groups have been promised land and have been given the runaround and actually nothing has happened. We believe that at this point in our lives we have to begin to think about Junkanoo beyond Bay Street. So, we reapplied to the present prime minister, Minnis, who is a member of the Shell Saxon Superstars and has been so for the last 25 years. So, he’s not a newcomer.
“Now, all of the groups have the same privilege to get the same offer as us. They just have to be diligent and do the things that are necessary, like we did. We followed the procedure.”
After a badly cropped photo of the purported document surfaced last week, there was widespread criticism over whether there was favoritism shown to the Saxons because Minnis is a longstanding member.
The prime minister has since denied that allegation saying the government has actually been looking for property for all of the major Junkanoo groups.
“They applied for it,” he said. “That had nothing to do with me.”
He also said what the Saxons decides to do with the property is up to the group.
When asked about plans for the 3.01 acres, Francis said, “We want to establish our home there. We have enough room now to expand to do all of the things that are necessary, in terms of our architectural vision and designs.”
He continued, “It’s going to be something really new. I am not at liberty to discuss what it is we plan to do there, but it is going to be something different and unique. It will be something that the Saxons can be proud of.”
Clearing of trees has already begun on the property, which Francis said will be the location of a world-class facility that will be a tourist attraction, as well as a headquarters and practice grounds for the Junkanoo champions.
“The property will have a structure that will be a touristic structure, whereby tourists can come and see what we will be doing on a daily basis there,” he said.
“Of course, you know, we want to employ people within the organization and create opportunities. For many years I’ve had the vision where I always wanted to see a home for the Saxons saying Shell Saxon Superstars on it. We’ll have an address, a phone number, a contact. So, we applaud Prime Minister Minnis for his vision and the bold step that he took”
Minnis said the vision to have Junkanoo groups acquire their own property was one that was expressed even on the campaign trail, leading up to the 2017 general election.
He said, “Our dream was this, that the Junkanoo groups would have a headquarters. We tried to accommodate it in the inner city, where you have proper security, proper environment. You can have areas in there where they design and where they build.
“Tourists can come through and utilize that as a touristic attraction. So, the Valley may have a Valley museum, the Saxons a Saxon museum, One Family a One Family museum.
“So, as tourists come they can see the history, the evolution of that particular Junkanoo group and they can become involved in making and designing small pieces and the groups would have at that particular location, what you call Junkanoo shops; so taxis would take tourists and other individuals there on a tour and they can buy the Junkanoo paraphernalia — be it shirts, be it dolls, be it cowbells, all Saxons brand, Valley brand, One Family brand, Roots brand.
“That was our ambition and we had designed plans; we can show you the drafts that were designed for the inner city.”