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By Linda Cousins/Amasewa Okomfo




copyright (c) L. Cousins 2001










"What’s wrong, Pumpkin?" Nia asked her daughter Selah who was absentmindedly looking for shells on Cabbage Beach where they had come for a family picnic on this the fifth day of their vacation in the Bahamas. "Aren’t you having a good time?"

"Yes, I’m having a fabutastic time, Moms," Selah loved making up new words, and "fabutastic" was the latest in her collection, along with "magnifulous." Nia cocked her head to the side and leaning down on one knee, looked Selah deeply in the eye as she always did when she suspected that Selah wasn’t saying what was really on her mind. Half smiling, Selah kicked her sandaled foot back and forth in the warm sand. "Really I am, Moms. It was nice of you and Baba to bring me here to the Bahamas with you for your anniversary and all. I mean how many Moms and Pops take their kids along on an anniversary vacation. And it’s so pretty here."

Emerging from the aquamarine waters where he’d been swimming, Selah’s father, Kwame, joined his wife and daughter on the blanket under the nearby palm tree.

"I caught what you said, Baby. And let me tell you something, you don’t have to keep thanking Moms and me for bringing us with you on this trip. We’ve had ten anniversaries all to ourselves, and since you were our best anniversary present that second year after our wedding, born almost on our anniversary day, then we figured you deserved to celebrate with us this time. But like Moms said, what’s with this down-and-out look around and about the eyebrow region?"

Selah giggled. Baba always had a way of making her laugh, no matter how she felt. She should’ve known that she couldn’t hide her feelings from her parents. Her father was a jazz drummer and her Moms a part-time poet when she wasn’t teaching her high school social studies class. "We’re artists, daughter," Baba often told her. "What we don’t see or hear, we feel-l-l-ll."

"Out with it, young lady." Moms pinched her cheek playfully.

"Welll-lll, like I said I’m really having a fabutastic time. I can’t wait to tell Ginger how pretty this place is or how much fun it was to go touring the whole island in a real limo with a real track star--Mr. Sam Marathon Man Williams--and how magnifulous it is to swim in some gorgeriffic blue waters, just like in those travel pictures we were looking at before we came. And that oceanfood..."

"Seafood," Nia corrected her

Selah decided that she didn’t like the sound of her newest attempt at what she called "wordifying," so she’d go along with her mother on the seafood correction.

The seafood we ate down at the Fish Fry place--Wow!

Okay, then what’s the deal with the woebegone look? Nia interrupted, a trifle impatient with Nia’s long list of "I loved’s" when something was obviously still displeasing her.

"To tell the truth, Mom and Baba, I miss Ginger, I miss Cuddles, and I miss my drums.

I just got them, you know."

"So, that’s it!" Baba smiled, "You miss your best friend, Ginger, your kitten, Cuddles, and your drums. Now that’s quite a trio. Leave it to a musician to say she misses her drums after just a few days away from them."

Selah had made up her mind since she was seven that she was going to be a drummer just like Baba, and while she might not be a poet like Mama, she would be a songwriter and create music for her all-girl jazz band. But before she could do that, she had to get as good on the drums as Baba was. That would take lots of practice on that new drumset she’d just gotten for her birthday.

"Well, we’ve got a few more days here in Nassau, so let’s see what we can do to take your mind off those drums for awhile. And to rest my poor eardrums, too."

"Good afternoon." Mrs. Ethlyn Sawyer the maid who cleaned their room, smiled at them warmly as she passed, pushing a cart loaded with fresh towels. "You folks still enjoying your vacation?"

"Oh yes, the Bahamas is gorgeous," Nia smiled back.

"Fantabulous", Selah chirped in.

"Mrs. Sawyer," Baba inquired, "didn’t you say you have a daughter who works with the Meet the People program?"

"Yes, I sure do. She’s been working there since she got out of college in Jacksonville."

"That’s great. My wife and I were thinking about connecting with the program so we could meet some Bahamians who are into the arts, but now I think we’d better try to find some youngsters in the arts that our Selah here can relate to. She wants to be a drummer like her ole man.," he added proudly.

"Oh, I don’t even have to send you to Viola for that. There’s a drummer family right up the road from me who’s number one in our culture. They’re top Junkanoo people."

Junka-who people? Selah asked.

"They’ll tell you all about it, sweetie. I know they’d just love to meet you folks. I’d better get on with my work, but I’ll call them tonight. It’s real busy for Junkanoo people now, but I’ll find out if they can find a little time to meet you before you leave. "

That sounds lovely, Mrs. Sawyer. We’d love that, too." Mom waved as Mrs. Sawyer walked away, humming a Bahamian spiritual.

"Ya-a-ay!" Selah cheered , "finally some kids to talk to."

Happy now?" Baba winked.

"Delightsome," Selah winked back, skipping up the beach to continue her shell search.

Two days before New Year’s the Parkers arose early to take another limo ride with Sam Marathon Man Williams--this time to meet the friendly people at his Bahamas Loving Care Association office. Then they were off to Over the Hill, Nassau’s Grant’s Town area, where they’d been invited to have breakfast and spend the day with a family of Bahamian performers, the Newmans.

When they pulled up to the brightly colored, aqua and yellow house, Papa Lou Newman, opened the door to greet them.

"Come on in, folks," he chuckled. "You’re all mighty good lookin’ and breakfast is a’cookin’!"

The Parkers laughed heartily, feeling they had known Papa Lou for years instead of just a few seconds.

"Mmm," Selah thought, "That food sure smells marvelistic."

Papa Lou ushered them into the small living room and called out to his daughter and grandson who shared the home with him. A pretty young woman in shorts and a ponytail came into the room followed by her son who stared at them shyly without speaking.

"Hi, I’m Sanmichelle, and this is my son, Papa Lou2. His name is Cyril, but we call him Papa Lou2 after his grandpapa here. We’re glad you could come. Say hi, Pops."

"Hi," Papa Lou2 half whispered, looking down at the floor.

"You folks are probably good and hungry," Grandfather Papa Lou grinned. "Come on into the dining room. San’s a great Bahamian cook, and I’m great at setting a Bahamian table. Everything’s piping hot and just a’waitin’ for all those ready, willing, and able."

"Just call me Mr. Ready, Nia, Ms. Willing, and Selah, little Ms. Able," Baba kidded back.

"Ha, Ha!," Papa Lou whooped as he pulled out the chairs for his guests. While the Junkanoo music of a famous Bahamian singer called Sweet Emily played in the background, the two families shared Bahamian and North Carolina folktales over the heaping bowls of grits, steaming stewed conch, platters of fried grouper, and johnycake cake, along with mugs of fresh bush tea and homemade cocoa.

"So, you’re a l’il drummer girl?" PapaLou asked Selah, as he escorted her family to the backyard to show them his collection of drums.

"Yeparoni," Selah grinned, "just like my Daddy. And I’m gonna be a writer like Moms, too. She writes poems, but I’m gonna write songs."

"That’s mighty nice. My l’il Papa Lou2 don’t talk much, but he plays some powerful Goombay drums. Don’t worry ‘bout him being so shutmouth, though. Once he gets to know you, you want be able to hardly squeeze a word in."

While Baba examined the drums at the other end of the yard and Moms returned into the house to join Sanmichelle, Selah sat in the chair Papa Lou offered her and rested her elbows on the drum in front of her.

"What’s this Junkaboo business, Papa Lou?"

Junkaboo? Girl, you somethin’! It’s Junkanoo. JUN-KA-NOO. Now the only way I can come pretty close to describing Junkanoo is to give you a few lines from one of our Junkanoo poems:


Oh, just when a few

thousand of us

come rushin’ through

JUNKANOO? --rainbowed costumes

of humble cardboard, crepe, and wire,

dazzledly feathered, glittered and mirrored

to entrance you and dance you as we rush by.

JUNKANOO, the toters under ancestral

masterpieces built so high

that like our coconut trees

they rhythm move and swing toward the Bahama sky.


of soul-throbbin’ Goombay drums, cowbells, and horns.

JUNKANOO, the Bahamas greatest national treasure

from our heritage, culture-born.

"Oooh, I like that poem. It makes me want to see Junkanoo, especially those so-o-oo-u-l-throbbin’ Goombaby drums."

Ha! Goombaby?! It’s goombay, l’il drummer girl. Let me tell you something, if you like soul rhythms, you gonna love Junkanoo. In fact, you wanna hear a little story?"

"Unh-hunh. Baba tells me and my best friend, Ginger, stories sometimes when we have a pajama party, and Mama reads poetry to us. I’ll bet she’ll like your Junkanoo poem and Ill bet I’ll like your Junkanoo stories."

"Well, that’s good ‘cause Papa Lou2 here loves his goombay drums, but he’s not so crazy about Papa Lou One’s stories. Like so many young folks today, the tv bug done bit him too hard."

"I like your stories, " Papa Lou spoke up for the first time, "it’s just they get kinda long sometimes."

"Well, if you don’t wanna pay, then let me tell my story my way."

The children smiled and Papa Lou2 hopped atop the goombay drum as his grandfather began his tale.

"Once upon time in a very ole time, the monkey chewed tobacco and he spit white wine."

"What a crazy monkey!" Selah giggled.

"That’s just the way they start the stories here," PapaLou2 explained.

"Well now, " Papa Lou continued, "Junkanoo really began way, way back yonder in Africa land. They had festivals for everything, whether it be a good harvest or to celebrate your coming to this earth or leaving this earth. And with all that, they had the mighty power of the drum and the dance, the stilt dancers called moco jumbis that represented the ancestors that come back amongst you on occasion--them was mostly the Bambara people in North Africa. You still see a few moco jumbis in Junkanoo these days, but you useta see a whole lot more of that in the ole time days.

Now some folks say that the word Junkanoo came from the Quoja people who called God by the name Canno, and the ancestral spirits they called them Jananin. So, Jananin Canno, sounds a l’il close don’t it? But a whole heap of folks say Junkanoo come from the name of that ole caboceer or head man on the West Coast of Africa called John Canoe. But I’ma git back to ole man John Konnu a l’il later in my story.

Now, you see, whilst they had some things to praise and rejoice about back yonder in Africa land, they had some things to be mighty scared of as well. Like them ole slave catchers that might sneak up on you when you least expect it and steal you away from your homeland and your people, many nevermore to be seen again. Sometime you might end up chained in one of them dark, dank dungeons of ole John Connu’s fort right there on the edge of that ocean that was soon to be a liquid wall between you and all you ever knowed or loved.

John Connu was an African like those of our folks in chains, but he was operating from the flip side of good. Smart, shrewd, mean and lean, working with the slavecatchers to take our people from the home scene. Nobody, black or white, could best him. He was a ruler on his turf and a force to be reckoned with for a long, long spell thereabouts.

Now, it’s one thing about our people, if you outwitted them or mastered them in warfare, then like my Jamaican friend says, they gave you ‘nuff respect, ‘cause they figured the God you served was at least a tad stronger the One they dealt with. They might fear you, they might dread you, they might even cut your neck if you turned your back, but they gave you respect. And ole John Konnu was so fearsome, powerful, and yes, ugly to them that they never forgot him. When they were put on that slave ship, when they had to leave everything they knowed and loved behind, wherever that slave ship dropped them, they carried their tears, their pain, their ancestral pride and their culture.

Some of them got dropped off here in the Bahamaland, some in Jamaica, Belize, Bermuda, and some over there in America where y’all are from. Wherever they landed, when they had some free time from their toil, unless somebody stopped them, they played them ancestral drums and they danced. They didn’t have no drums like back home in Africa, so they made them outa whatsoever was available--be it a tree trunk or a rum cask. They didn’t have no real instruments to play to go along with them drums, so they took the bells offa the cows’ necks and they made a joyful noise with them cowbells. Then they’d pick up the conchshells off the beach and blow them.

The time come that the ole slavemasters would give our people three days off from a year’s worth of bondage round Christmastime. That’s when they’d git together and play them drums, blow the conchshells, ring them cowbells, and dance, dance, dance through the streets. They called that Junkanoo. Back in them days they didn’t have no fancy costumes like we wear in Junkanoo today. They made their costumes outa strips of newspaper or plants and a many of them outa sponges ‘cause we used to be just loaded down with sponges in our waters here in The Bahamas, but they done give out now. Hardly no sponges left.

And since we by the ocean waters, they’d make l’il fancy ships and put on top of the hats they’d wear. For a good while they’d have Junkanoo downtown where the white people called the Bay Street Boys had their businesses, but when they wouldn’t let them have Junkanoo there no more, they brought it back here to our neighborhood what we call Over-the-Hill ‘cause it’s a l’il hill that separates us from dowtown. It was the local, Over-the-Hill people that kept Junkanoo going for the longest.

And alla them wasn’t slaves or the offspring of slaves. You see, after the slave trade supposed to done ended in l807, some of them slave catchers would still go over to Africa land and kidnap our people, but when the folks patrolling the waters caught up with them, they’d make them turn the slaves loose. A lot of them was let go here in The Bahamas, and they set up communities like Grant’s Town here, Adelaide Village, and Bain’s Town.

Then you had the slaves that was brought over from America after the Revolutionary War period when those folks who was for the British wanted to get out of the country. It was a many of ‘em that came here and brought their slaves. Not to mention those slaves that escaped over here from Florida when America was snatching it from Spain. Then you had the Indians--the Lucayans-- that was right here in the Bahamas and the ones that come over from Florida like the slave folks. Most all of them was killed off or died out, but we still give them 'nuff respect in Junkanoo. That's why you see a lot of feathers in our costumes.

Some of the slave folks even swam over here from Florida--that’s how much they wanted to stay free. They had done run away from slavery into Florida, and they was duty bound not to be caught and thrown back into the slavery trap. It was all of them mixup of folks that come to make up what they called the Junkanoos--the folks that was the seed and root of this million-dollar festival that folks come from ‘round the world to see and which you gonna be lucky enough to see if you still here come New Year’s morning. Give her a little taste of what she’s going to hear, Pops."

Papa Lou2 put the strap of his Goombay drum around his shoulders and with a look of intensity danced about the yard, beating out a lusty Junkanoo rhythm. Selah placed a Junkanoo headdress that was lying on a nearby table on her head and danced behind her new friend. When the children finished their impromptu performance, the other adults, lured by the Junkanoo rhythm, stood in the doorway applauding.

"Isn’t this great, Moms and Baba! I can’t wait to see Papa Lou and Papa Lou2 play the drums on New Year’s Day. I wish I knew how to play these Goombay drums, I’d play too."

"L’il drummer gal, I bet you would!" Papa Lou stood up from the Goombay drum he had been tightening. "There are only a handful of women drummers now, but who knows, you could come back and be one of them one Junkanoo day."

"Maybe you might even have a father-daughter Junkanoo team as well," Baba smiled. "I wouldn’t mind expanding my music to some of this kind of drumming as well. It’s a fascinating ancestral artform."

"It only takes a few minutes to get Junkanoo fans for life," Sanmichelle called from the doorway, "but enough with the yard rushin’ and ole story time. This is going to be a real Junkanoo day for you folks. We’ve got some nice people for you to meet. For one thing, there’s Arlene who is one of our real Junkanoo queens. She wrote a real nice book about Junkanoo. Arlene rushes with One Family, and she and her husband, Syl, have a Junkanoo business where they take you on tours and teach you to paste a costume. She’s having a class today and said we could bring you by. Then we’re going by Doongalik--that’s a Junkanoo museum where you can pick up some souvenirs."

"And don’t forget to take them to meet Chris Justilien," Papa Lou chimed in. "He’s one of our top Junkanoo musicians. Chris was the head of Roots music section for the longest. Now he heads that hot new group, Colours. San, check with Chris and see if they're gonna have a practice before New Year's Day. These folks would love that. In fact, folks, Chris was the one who took a group of Junkanoos to perform as part of the Super Bowl entertainment one year. He’s recorded quite a few Junkanoo cd’s, so if you can luck up on one while you're here, you can take some Junkanoo home with you."

"Can we take them by ZedNS or Cody’s so they can get a Junkanoo video, too?" Papa Lou asked.

"What’s ZedNS and Cody’s?" asked Selah.

"ZedNS is our tv station. They always cover Junkanoo and make videos of it. And Cody’s is a music store with lots of Junkanoo music and stuff in it."

"Zed? That’s funny. We say "Z" in my school. But then again, Zed sounds kinda cool. If I have a little boy one day, maybe I’ll name him Zed, and of course he’ll play the drums like his Moms--maybe even the Junkanoo drums since his name will be Zed."

"Lord, this girl!" Moms ruffled Selah’s braids. "Looks like we’ve got Junkanoo fever in this family already, especially with all of this Junkanooana we’re going to be loading up with today."

"Chile, there’s no better souvenirs to take back home from the Bahamas." Sanmichelle took the two children’s hands. "Come on everybody. My friend, Kevin, is waiting in the car out front. Like Papa Lou and my baby, he’s a born and bred Junkanoo man."

"Ma, don’t call me baby, okay?!." PapaLou2 interrupted.

"Boy, if you don’t watch it!", Sanmichelle pulled his ear playfully. "Well, like Papa Lou and my big 11-year-old drummerman here, Kevin’s a #1 Valley. He’ll run us by the shack for awhile so you can see what it’s like to get ready for Bay Street."

"I want to see some nice places, not any ole shacks," Selah slowed down as they headed for the car.

"Se-lah!" Moms scolded.

"It’s not really a shack shack, silly," Papa Lou2 grinned. "It’s a big place like a warehouse where Junkanoo people put their costumes together."

"Yeah," Papa Lou added, "During this time of year, some Junkanoo folks practically live in the shack. It takes months to paste some of the costumes, and everybody wants to give it top shot ‘cause the big groups are competing for some big prizes, not to mention the chance to be Junkanoo champions for the whole year."

"We got lots of big groups," Papa Lou2 said proudly, "I got friends in all of them. We got the Valleys, Saxon Super Stars, Roots, One Family, Barabbas and the Tribe. Most Qualified, Fancy Dancers. And then there’s the scrap groups."

"Those are the Junkanoo people who carry on the ole time tradition," explained Papa Lou. They’re not out for the big prizes and they don’t rush in big numbers. They just love the culture and they perform for the fun of it. I rushed scrap for many a year before I joined the Valleys."

"Can I rush scrap? Can I rush scrap?" Selah asked, "that way I don’t have to wait until next year. I can dance in the parade this year."

"No, sugarpie," Moms shook her head, "don’t mix anything in the soup until you know something about the flavor. You won’t get to see all of this fabulous festival if you’re involved in it yourself."

"That’s right, honeybunch, just have patience," Baba added. "I’ve got the feeling this is going to be the first of many visits for Junkanoo."

The Parkers spent the next few days in what Selah called "Junkanooing". She and Papa Lou2 had become good friends, and he had even shown her how to play some beats on his goombay drum. He and Papa Lou took her to visit Mr. John Chipman, who everybody called Chippie, the grandfather of Junkanoo. Besides being one of the country’s top drummers, he was also a goombay drum maker. He patiently showed Selah how he made the drums used by hundreds of drummers throughout the Bahamas. His grandson, Metellus, who was an artist and Junkanoo dancer showed Selah the colorful island paintings he’d created on his grandfather’s drums, as well as the book his Aunt Donna had written on their large family of performers and Chippie's drummaking. While her mom and Baba thumbed through the book, Selah ran her hand around and around the drum longingly.

Well since you’re gonna definitely be a Junkanoo woman one day," Papa Lou said, "I guess you should have your first goombay drum as a l’il remembrance of our family. Metellus, bring out one of your baby goombays for this l’il drummer gal here."

"Oh, Papa Lou, thank you!"

"Thank your buddy, Papa Lou2 here. He told me and his Mama he wanted to get you a special Junkanoo present before you leave."

"Thank you, Papa Lou2" Selah couldn’t resist giving him a big kiss on the cheek.

"Go on, man!" Papa Lou2 pulled away, embarrassed, then added shyly, "I got something else for you, too."

As Selah sat between her parents on the Bay Street bleachers waiting for the long-awaited Junkanoo parade to begin, she wondered to herself about the surprise present Papa Lou 2 had planned for her. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a gleeful shout from the crowd.

"Dey comin’!!" Everyone jumped from their seat and began to sway back and forth to the approaching rhythms of the brightly colored Junkanoo band and music approaching them from the distance. It was the Valleys in the lead, the group with whom Papa Lou and Papa Lou2 performed.

"Oh goodie," Selah thought, "I’ll get to see my friends right away."

Who are we?! one of the Valley performers yelled in a singsong voice to the crowd, "Who are we?!!

"The Valleys! The Valleys! The crowd in one voice responded, swaying rhythmically to the left, then to the right to the Spirit-energizing music of the horns, bells, and to the stimulating beats that moved the dancers’ feet. Some members of the crowd who were obviously fans of other groups called out goodnaturedly, "The Saxons! The Saxons!" A man behind the Newmans yelled, "Roots in Da Maw-w-w-nin!" What you talkin’ bout, brother?" a teenaged boy piped in, "One Family gonna take this one." "Barrabas lookin’ pretty this year," his girlfriend responded. Moved by the rhythm and gazing up in awe at the gigantic costume bedecked with African masks atop the turquoise, gold, and black Bahamian colors, the Newmans danced and swayed with the crowd.

"There’s Papa Lou," Moms called out. "Lord, that man can play up some drums. Watch out, honey," she teased Baba, "I’m falling in love."

"I know I’d better grab Selah’s drum and become a Junkanoo man now!" Baba laughed.

Oooo! Oooo! there’s Papa Lou2 over there," Selah squealed. " Look at his costume. It’s fantabulous. It’s marvelirific." When Papa Lou2 saw his friends cheering from the crowd, he blew his whistle even louder, then fell down on his knees, threw his head back, and played a beat so powerful that Selah put both hands to her cheeks and screamed. "You go boy! You my peeps!" she yelled to him. After getting a warning look from the group marshall, Papa Lou2 hopped to his feet and winking in the direction of the stands, continued with his group up Bay Street enmeshed in the first lap rhythms of the Junkanoo beats.

Selah tugged at her father’s hand. "Watch out, Baba, I think I’m falling in love." The Newmans whooped so loudly in laughter that for a minute they practically drowned out the jammin’ Junkanoo music.

"I’d better get my family away from this Junkanoo magic. I’m about to lose both of my girls."

"We’re just jokefyng, Baba, " Selah giggled.

The crowd’s attention turned to the dancers of the One Family Junkanoo group, including the lovely lady Sanmichelle called Arlene the Junkanoo Queen.

Now I get it," Selah smiled, waving to Arlene, "that’s the lady on our suitcases."

"That’s the lady who’s picture is on our suitcases," Moms corrected.

"And those customs officers will be putting that picture on there many a time," Baba remarked, "’cause me and my baby will be back with our drums to experience this action firsthand."

"I’m going to write some poetry about this," Moms shook her head in agreement. "Selah’s right when she says Junkanoo is fantabulous and marvelirific."

"If you put my words in your poem, you’ve got to pay me. Remember how you say learn business early."

"Just hush and dance, girl" Moms gave Selah’s braids a gentle tug.

Taking her Moms at her word, Selah danced with all of her might to the power of the Junkanoo music. Yes, she still wanted to be a jazz drummer, but maybe once or twice a year, she’d visit the Bahamas and play her l’il goombaby drum.

Papa Lou, Sanmichelle, and Papa Lou had insisted on driving the Newmans to the airport the afternoon they were returning home, and Baba had insisted that he was treating them all to lunch at the Shoal Restaurant before anyone shed a tear or said a goodbye. When the waiter asked for their order, Selah chirped, "Mama, bake the johny cake!"--one of the songs Papa Lou had told her they used to sing in the "ole time Junkanoo."

"Lord, we’re going to miss this gal," Papa Lou shook his head grinning, "What a little Bahama Mama we got here."

"Well, you don’t have to miss her too much," Baba said. "You all have an open invitation to visit us in Brooklyn anytime."

"I hope they’ll get Junkanoo up there one day for the Caribbean parade on Labor Day," Moms said, "New York would never be the same after they experience what I’m calling in my poem, "The Joys of Junkanoo. Whenever you do come to perform, just let them know you won’t be hoteling with the group, you’ll be staying with your buddies."

"Sounds nice." Sanmichelle smiled. "I wouldn’t mind seeing New York."

Papa Lou2 had been as quiet at lunch and on the ride to the airport as he had been on the first day of meeting the family. When they got to the ticket counter at the airport, while the adults were embracing one another and saying their can’t wait to see you again’s, he took Selah’s hand, opened it, and placed a small plastic bag in it.

"Look at it on the plane," he said, "and don’t forget those beats I showed you." With that he turned and followed his grandfather and mother from the airport, not even turning back when Selah sang out, "Bye Papa Lou2. I won’t forget you. And I sure won’t forget Junkanoo-oo!."

As the plane swooped into the air over the palm trees of Nassau, over the beautiful aquamarine sea, and the tiny cars on the highway by the beach, Selah did not gaze out the window at the tropical blues and greens below that she as a young artist had come to cherish. She gazed smilingly at the small gift in her hand. "What you got there, l’il drummer girl?" Moms asked. Selah silently placed the memento from her friend into her Mom’s hand. An air freshener made in the form of a Junkanoo drummer.

"We’ll put it on the windshield in the car as soon as we get home." Baba promised. "Unh-hunh," Selah sighed, her mind in the lovely Bahamas below as she rocked her shoulder to the Junkanoo rhythms flowing from her cd walkman And if you’ll look at the bottom of this page, Papa Lou2 sent two for you, too-- little goombay drummer boys from Junkanoo!




Click here for some video Junkacheer!

Culture lovers, watch out!

You're about to sample

what Junkanoo's all about.

Better relax and take a seat

'cause the power rhythms of

da Junkabeat might knock you

right off your feet

copyright (c) L. Cousins 1997

Rhyming Glossary

Baba - an African word for father or Dad. If Baba Kwame hadn’t gone on the trip, Selah would have been very sad.

The Bahamas - a group of 700 tropical islands surrounded by the Atlantic Sea. Like Selah once you’ve visited them, how happy you will be!

bush tea - a healthy drink made from local plants called herbs--good for everything, Papa Lou says, from the bones to the nerves.

conch - Served in stews, salads, and fritters, conch is a shellfish that makes a very tasty dish.

grouper - a class of Bahamian fish or seafood. According to the Parkers, grouper, too, is very good.

folktale - a story about people’s lives, beliefs, and customs in different parts of the world. Reading folktales is funtabulous for little boys and girls.

goombay drum - a type of Junkanoo drum, whether it be goatskin, sheepskin, or a plastic-headed tom-tom.

johnycake - a small cornbread-like cake that Bahamian cooks make.

Junkanoo - a glorious festival of the Bahamas held on Boxing Day (Dec. 26th) and New Year’s Day, too. With its brilliant costumes, dance, and music, Junkanoo is sure to delight you.

rushin’ - a lively dancing through the streets to the Junkanoo music beat.

toter - a Junkanoo performer who carries large lead festival costumes--costumes so huge that they could never fit in your room.




Would you, like Selah, her Moms and Baba too

Enjoy a culture-jaunt to Junkanoo?

(You can get a sample all year through)

If interested, just let us know,

We'll help you get ready and set to go!



Roots Junkanoo tapes and cd's (Roots in Da Mornin', Jubilee,

Roots Back on Da Side (Chris Justilien, Executive Producer)

Videotapes - Boxing Day and New Year's Day Junkanoo

Goombay drum (created by the Hon. John Arthur "Chippie"

Chipman, Godfather of Culture and painted by his

grandson, award-winning Junkanoo dancer/visual artist,

Metellus Chipman. (a gift from Papa Lou)

Bahamas rumcakes in decorative cans (a gift from Sanmichelle)

Junkanoo goombay drummer air fresheners (a gift from Papa Lou2)

Junkanoo books: I Come to Get Me - An inside look at the Junkanoo

Festival by Arlene Nash Ferguson; Bahamian Cultural Dynasty (featuring how to make a goombay drum) by Donna L. M. Chipman.

The above are some Junkanooana memorabilia the Parkers brought back from Nassau. While you're armchair traveling to Junkanoo, you can order some of these cultural mementoes for your enjoyment , too. (for further information, contact us at: or by calling 718-398-8941; 718-783-1951 (fax). Linda Cousins, Director, JunkanooSPIRIT Pro-Motions, 30 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217.


Click Below for a JUNKANOO SlidE SHOW, compliments of Selah J :




And the following year

after Boxing Day Junkanoo,

guess who was the Parkers

special guest for Kwanzaa?

Why, none other than Papa Lou2!