Back to Bay Street 2022January 9, 2023
People were counting down the days. It had been almost 2 years since we as a country had celebrated the sweet sound of Boxing Day Junkanoo. For Bahamians Junkanoo is a time honored tradition that has been passed down to us from our African ancestry. It is rooted in the fabric in our culture and is the quintessential Bahamian experience. The true origin of Junkanoo is some what of a mystery. Some believe it came about from the legend of John Canoe, a West African prince who was able to outsmart the British colonizers. Others theorize it began around the 17 century, brought on by African slaves who celebrated having three days off due to the Christmas holiday. I cannot imagine a Bahamas without Junkanoo, similarly as I cannot imagine the USA without Thanksgiving . It is the common thread that weaves through all of us. Are you a Saxon or a Valley boy, was the common question when I was a boy. These are the names of the founding Junkanoo groups. More recently new groups and affiliations have blossomed.
In the early morning the crowd begins to make its way to Bay Street - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, young and old. They line the street and wait in anticipation for the groups to take center stage. You can feel the energy buzzing through the crowd like the live electrical wire that provide the overhead street lights. Then suddenly with the strike of a drum the crowd erupts. Deep from within the belly of the crowd someone yells ” “Dey comin” The celebration has officially begun. The streets are now flooded with color, music and most importantly joy. Until the sun comes up the crowd will be intoxicated by the sweet sound of Junkanoo.