by Larry Smith
We Bahamians are considered such philistines around the region. They laugh at us for stooping so low as to blow up our own culture, and that's not a joke - it actually happened in 1987, when the government demolished Jumbey Village with explosives.
The village was an offshoot of a community festival launched in 1969 by musician and parliamentarian Ed Moxey. An earlier and more 'cultural' version of the fish fry, it featured music and dance performances as well as displays of arts and crafts, and produce, and was aimed at locals as well as tourists.
In 1971 Moxey persuaded the Pindling government to let the festival take over a former dump site on Blue Hill Road and build a permanent facility. In the period leading up to independence in 1973, there was a lot of buzz about a popular enterprise promoting Bahamian creative arts.
"We put the homestead site up and in '73 we had a meeting with all the teachers. And they agreed right there that all the teachers in the system would donate a half day's pay and every school would have a function...and we came up with $100,000 in the space of three months," Moxey recalled.
"We put up a special cabinet paper, cabinet agreed, and when I pick up the budget, everything was cut out. Everything." Moxey told University of Pennsylvania researcher Tim Rommen in 2007. "That was a little bit too much. Village lingered, lingered...just kept on deteriorating until they came up with this grandiose scheme to put National Insurance there. And when they ready, they blow the whole thing down."