Former Prime Minister Perry G. Christie said that Junior Junkanoo is very important to him, so much so that while he traveled to Grand Bahama for another event, attending the parade on Saturday (February 9) was added to his agenda.
Christie, who is said to be one of the founding fathers for The Valley Boys, said Junkanoo is in his blood.
In an interview with this daily at the parade Christie noted, “I was telling the Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator J. Kwasi Thompson that culture and sports are multi-billion-dollar industries.
“We, in The Bahamas, have not done enough to give our people the opportunity to be the best they could be and to exploit internationally.
“PJ Patterson wrote on a paper saying four artists in Jamaica earned more than an entire banana industry in Jamaica. So, when we look at our singers, painters, track and field people, basketball people, we know that we have to do more to encourage others to be like them,” continued Christie.
“I came here many years ago and saw Buddy Hield as a youngster, and look at Buddy Hield now, or look at Deandre Ayton.
“This Junior Junkanoo was important for me to come out to and I also told Minister Thompson we must continue this, because some of those kids may become accomplished dancers, singers and designers.
“It is all there and out in the economy in our country. We don’t see it now, but it can happen and it can be big time, but you have to believe,” said the former prime minister.
Christie noted that although there may appear to be a lack in support, he is hopeful that all is not lost if the school administrators do their part.
“We have to address the school authority. Everything must begin in school, school is a capital market and must pass on to the Ministry of Youth and Administrator of Education, who must both become believers of what could happen.
“Talents are gifts and we have to take advantage of the gifts of our people.
“We are already seeing we can produce basketball players, baseball players, track and field athletes and they make millions of dollars. But we have to encourage more of that and this country can do it and we must do it and it will be connected to our survival,” Christie added.
Also sharing their thoughts on the cultural parade, were several visitors to the island. Simone Cogan from South Africa said, “It’s a nice lovely festival and it’s quite lively and fun.
“This is my first time in Grand Bahama. We did the shark dive and we had a great time. I am a stewardess and I came for work.
“I was at the petrol station getting my car filled up and I asked the petrol attendant what was good and fun to do and she mentioned Junior Junkanoo.”
Linda Arnold and her friend, who lives on a sailing catamaran, shared she has seen Junkanoo, but on the island of Trinidad and Tobago.
“Presently, I am in Port Lucaya and we came to see Junkanoo because we love it. The kids are wonderful and I’ve never been to Junkanoo in The Bahamas before, but I have visited it in Trinidad and Tobago.
“What we are seeing here is mainly children from schools doing their thing, but in Trinidad they have all their costumes sold around the world.
“The costumes and all the colors are magically beautiful. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was an act of unity and pride,” said Arnold.