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Briland's Dr. Lea Percentie Sounds Off On Junkanoo [Nassau Guardian]
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Apr 14th 2004, 12:16:36 pm
chapelApril 14, 2004 - 08:06
Junkanoo Ministry in A Desperate State
Will someone please tell me what on earth is going on in the Ministry of Culture! In particular, what in the name of anything sacred is going on with those who have the responsibility of administering Junkanoo?

With Junkanoo being the national culture of the Bahamas as well as a vital tourist attraction, it goes without saying that those in charge of Junkanoo should put their best foot forward and manage the Junkanoo industry in a way that all Bahamians could be proud of.

Instead and regrettably, for the past two years, the administration of Junkanoo by the Ministry of Culture has been nothing short of a nightmare and anyone involved in Junkanoo would describe this management style as disgraceful almost without hesitation. If not, certainly the worst Junkanoo administration team in recent times.

Reliable information from the Ministry of Culture is a rarity and only the good Lord knows when winning Junkanoo groups and individual winners will receive their prize money or even if or when there will be an awards ceremony. This is a far cry from the , efficiency that existed with previous Cultural administrations.

The practice in the past was that usually by mid-February, the winning groups (even despite controversy) would have received their monies. This was most convenient as the thrills of victory of the Boxing Day or New Years Day was still fresh in the minds of the parade participants who could then celebrate and appreciate the result of their hard work and achievement.

Also, groups wanting an early start for the next year's parade will have some working capital to get started. Or if necessary groups could apply for advances on their earnings and usually they will be accommodated by the Junkanoo Committee. This provided the groups with the flexibility to deal with creditors or other incurred obligations.

This was especially helpful as every year the cost of putting on a parade each year goes up and due to recent tough times in the economy donations to groups are down. But at the end of the day creditors want their money. It is so frustrating for persons such as myself who as the treasurer of my group (The Swingers) have to constantly have to deal with creditors by explaining that I did not know when my group will receive the money.

In 2003 the cash prizes was not available until May of 2003. By then the experience of the parade is only a distant memory in the minds of most parade participants. Consequently, there was no point of a celebration. So far for the year 2004, several dates as to when prize monies would be awarded have come and gone. The latest date that was indicated for Grand Bahama was March 27th, 2004.

You can just imagine my disappointment when I traveled all the way from Boston, USA only a few days before the awards day only to discover that there was no award ceremony and therefore, no funds coming in to pay creditors. This was most unfair and shows a complete lack of respect for those who sacrifice so much to make a Junkanoo parade possible. Furthermore, it serves to decrease morale and it brings doubt to our reliability among creditors, thus adversely affecting our future relationship with them.

Minister of Culture, the Hon. Neville Wisdom must acceptable full responsibility for the disastrous state of affairs at his ministry today. Last year, Minister Wisdom leased bleacher seats for $ 1 million dollars, resulting in a $ 2.5 million dollar loss. Despite a forecast of a possible profit of $ 3 million dollars, any reasonable person in the face of such an obvious screw up would display a deep sense of shock when the PLP government of the day passed a resolution congratulating Minister Wisdom for a job well done. Their proclamation was that "you cannot put a price on Junkanoo!" This is such a reckless attitude.

This year Minister Wisdom took a much more conservative approach. The bleacher contract was awarded to a Bahamian firm which promised a percentage of the profit at no cost to government. Reportedly, the "profits" fell far short of their projections. Consequently monies that could have been used for prize money did not materialize. Now the government has no choice but to ask Parliament to approve monies to pay for the prizes.

Once again, Junkanooers are being left in the dark. Under Minister Wisdom, Junkanoo has gone backwards. When one considers the significance of Junkanoo to the Bahamian people and the vital role it plays in tourism promotion. Minister Wisdom is now a liability that the Bahamas can no longer afford. Minister Wisdom, despite all of his good intentions, should do the honorable thing and resign as Minister of Culture.

Dr. Leatendore D. Percentie
Freeport, Bahamas
April 12th, 2004

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