66_G15_Spotlight_Bahamas

Global Issue 15

Spotlight The Bahamas Behind the masks, the real dramas of The Bahamas The Bahamas has more to it than palm-fringed beaches and luxurious yachts rocking gently under the sun in manicured marinas. There’s soul, respect for traditional culture and history, and a thriving artistic community Juliet Highet Elaborate masks created for the Junkanoo festival, an annual carnival which sees some enthusiasts spending up to a year creating their costumes While Downtown Nassau might be popular with some tourists, close by New Providence Island is the real deal, with fishing villages and wharves where locals gather to gossip over conch fish salads. Just south of Bay Street, with its designer shopping malls, is the capital’s original shanty town, Over-the-Hill, the African-Bahamian enclave of vibrantly painted wooden houses, many of which have now been restored. It seethes with lively culture. Games of warri, an African board game, are played beneath trees or in the bars vibrating with rake ‘n’ scrape music. Many of its people create crafts and paint, including murals celebrating the annual Junkanoo festival, originally inspired by the Nigerian Egungun sect, which has gradually been translated into a uniquely Bahamian carnival. Junkanoo is vital to Black Bahamian identity and has become such an integral part of island culture that sober-suited professionals usually join in the fun too. Dating from the 18th century, when slaves were granted three days off for Christmas, an all-male cast of masqueraders hide their identity behind elaborate masks and costumes, many of which have taken a year to plan and craft, starting straight after the last Junkanoo. They flash high-glitter attitude with plenty of rhinestones, beads and foil, a far cry from their Yoruba heritage. Even before the kaleidoscope of fiercely competing, costumed revellers whirls and gyrates into view, you hear the music – the goombay drums and blasts of conch shells, whistles and horns, as well as the ka-lick-ka-lick of cowbells. An award-winning beer brewed 66 l www.global -br ief ing.org thi rd quar ter 2013 global


Global Issue 15
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