Bahamas: Bahamas Junkanoo has been officially inscribed on the representative list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.”
The inscription was held during the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage, held in Botswana from December 4 to 9, 2023.
The Cultural Minister of Bahamas- Mario Bowleg expressed pleasure and added that the profound chapter of history unfolded. He said,” Junkanoo makes history as it claimed its rightful place as an intrinsic part of the Bahamas and legally recognised globally.”
While reiterating his commitment, he said that the inscription is not just a celebration of the country but a testament to the richness and significance of the cultural tapestry. With the inscription, Junkanoo is now declared as the official festival of the Bahamas.
He said that it will also make strides in preserving and safeguarding this incredible Cultural Festival.
Education Minister of Bahamas- Glenys Hanna Martin, on behalf of the government and people of The Bahamas, extended gratitude to the ICH for its decision to inscribe Junkanoo.
He said that this solidifies the approval of the nomination submitted by the country to inscribe Junkanoo as The Bahamas’s national premier festival.
Emphasizing its significance, the minister added that it provides international exposure, possible funding and other avenues of access from international partners to the country.
Notably, The Bahamas is one of the few Caribbean countries that have been approved for this esteemed list.
Junkanoo, named after the West African John Canoe Festival, originated in the Bahamas around the 17th century as a masquerade. It is a four-day celebration that always runs between Boxing Day, December 26 and New Year’s Day, January 1.
As part of the celebration, the citizens across the Bahamas hosted street parades in downtown Nassau on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. However, smaller celebrations occur in other places, including the Abacos, the Exumas, Harbour Island and Grand Bahama.
Junkanoo is a celebration of unity, bringing together thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds in the creation of towering, colourful costumes with cardboard and crepe paper.
The celebration is also known as the perfect display of the art and craft of the people as they prepare the costumes in shacks and transmit the knowledge to the younger generation.
Junkanoo is hosted into every major national event of The Bahamas. It is the celebration of creativity that defines the art, aiming to uplift the sense of community pride, identity, companionship, spirituality and unity.