The Bahamas’ participation in the opening of the United Kingdom’s first dedication carnival and celebratory arts centre signals the full support and partnership of The Bahamas with the Isle of Wight in the venture, Minister of State for Culture the Hon. Charles Maynard said last week.

This is particularly significant in light of the historic interaction of our respective countries over many centuries, Minister Maynard said in pre-recorded remarks at the Carnival Learning Centre’s opening on the English island.

Bahamian officials present at the opening included High Commissioner for The Bahamas in London His Excellency Paul Farquharson and Mrs. Farquharson; Director of the Bahamas Tourist Office in London (Europe/Asia) Karen Seymour and other cultural and tourism stakeholders.

Minister Maynard said that The Bahamas’ culture is unique, even though it is very close to the United States. The country’s culture, he added, has as its foundation the intersection of customs and traditions brought to The Bahamas by the British colonisers and the African slaves, in their adaptation to their new life.

This mixing has yielded, in some instances, peculiar and unique customs; none more so than Junkanoo, he said.

Minister Maynard’s comment fit in with the fact that a team of Junkanoo artisans and performers is currently at the Cultural Centre taking part in a two-week residency programme. The team is showcasing the art form of Junkanoo to schoolchildren, artisans and the general public.

We are honoured to be the first to participate in this historic cultural exchange, he said.

We are aware that there are many other similar festivals that could have had this privilege and to have the opportunity to share our unique cultural expression with you at the Carnival Learning Centre is truly an honour.”

Minister Maynard pointed out that as Junkanoo evolved from a defiant act by a proud people during the days of slavery to what it is today, persons take part in it as a labour of love and not for monetary gain.

It is this dedication to the art form and the brilliant presentation of the colours and rhythms of Junkanoo that captures the indomitable spirit of The Bahamas and its people, he said.

Junkanoo, Minister Maynard said, has expanded to the Family Islands and is being used as a productivity tool in the workplace, to decrease anti-social behaviour in communities and to enhance the education system.

Important ideals, such as discipline, teamwork and conflict resolution; excellence, commitment, problem-solving, responsibility and time management are a part of what it takes to go from idea to street production, he added.

Minister Maynard pointed out that it is through cultural exchanges of this nature that international relationships are strengthened and nations learn to celebrate their differences, while uniting in peace to uphold those tenants of festival and celebration that they share.

We highly commend this most progressive step that you have undertaken and pledge our full support as you move forward, he said concerning the Carnival Learning Centre.

May your work always prosper in the spirit of celebration.