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January 03, 2007


Haldane Chase

Thank you for your very informative and engaging article, which I read with much interest.

I must, however, first of all, take issue with the term "cultural relic", as I consider it far too reductive, given its state of development and the enormous space that Junkanoo occupies within the Bahamian psycho-cultural and aesthetic reality.

Secondly, your concluding assertion that "whatever its origins, Junkanoo today is not African at all" left me wondering where to locate the drums, rhythms, dances/movement, preference for bright colours -- all aspects of the tangible and intangible African cultural heritage.

To state superlatively that "Junkanoo today is not African at all" is, in my opinion, not at all correct. Remember, the products resulting from the processes of creolization/hybridization, while new and unique creations, affirm rather than negate the original contributing components. For example, pasta may have come to symbolize Italian cuisine, but the informed diner recognizes its undeniable link to its Chinese origin. So then, I think it would be more accurate to say that Junkanoo may not be "purely African", but it is indeed "more than just African", thanks to other cultural influences found in the present day manifestation of the practice.

In closing, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you for your fine and consistent efforts to present important ideas and themes for general information and discussion.

larry smith

I am always grateful for comment and advice.

I used the word 'relic' in the same sense that Clement Bethel described Junkanoo as a "vestige of African rituals".

As an African activity I think it can be characterised that way.

And it was also Clement who claimed that Junkanoo was 'uniquely Bahamian'. I admit to adding the 'not African' part to pique the interest of readers.

Noodles may not be uniquely Italian but pasta with pesto sauce probably is, or was.

Thanks for the kind words.

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