JUNKANOO - Festival of the Bahamas - E. Clement Bethel (Edited and expanded by Nicolette Bethel), Macmillan Education Ltd, London, l991.

Having fallen in love with Junkanoo at first sight during my initial attendance at this vibrant elebration, I longed to delve into the historical roots of this magnificent ancestral event. While in Nassau, I usually drop by the Island Bookshop on Bay Street to see what literary goodies they've added to their Bahamian and Caribbean section since my last visit.

I was absolutely delighted to find JUNKANOO - Festival of the Bahamas among the current offerings. Immediately purchased this informative cultural work. Couldn't wait until I got home to read it. Spent a few hours during my cooling-out periods in Nassau reading the work as well as the flight hours on the air-ride back to New York.

Penned by the late E. Clement Bethel, an ethnomusicologist and expert on Bahamian culture, the work was completed and carried to new dimensions by his daughter, Nassauvian educator, Nicolette Bethel, this work is an invaluable resource on Junkanoo as it relates varied aspects of the Carnival's historical and political linkages, including its connection to diaspora festivals in Bermuda, the Caribbean, and the l9th century John Kuner festivities in North Carolina.

The Bethels' work does not simply deal with the historical roots of Junkanoo but provide a more wide-ranging glimpse into the entire history of the Bahamas, from the indigenous Lucayan presence to the African and European immigration to the Bahamas' shores to the immigration of liberated Africans and the American loyalists of the Revolutionary War era who also brought their slaves onto the island with them.

Junkanoo -Festival of the Bahamas deals extensively with the deep African roots of the festival as well as the numerous challenges throughout Bahamian history to Junkanoo's very survival, racist and classist obstacles overcome time after time by the dynamic spirit of the Bahamian people who have ardently embraced this supreme slice of their culture and have, commendably enough, refused to let it die.

The work further traces Junkanoo's evolution from the small neighborhood scrap bands to the present-day Junkanoo groups with their intricate costumes and hundreds of participants. The vibrance and rich spirit of Junkanoo is brought to vivid life in the pages of the book through the many brilliant Junka photographs, including a number of paintings by Brent Malone who owns a gallery in Nassau. I was pleased to see inclusions of the work of the outstanding Bahamian historian/scholar, Dr. Gail Saunders, as well as references to input by other experts on Junkanoo, including members of the National Junkanoo Committee.

The authors' warm love and dedication to both Junkanoo and Bahamian culture are evident throughout the book, making the reading of the work not only a valuable educational experience but one of sheer cultural pleasure as well. For those enamored of Bahamian cultural experiences, JUNKANOO - Festival of the Bahamas inspires not only a thorough, studious cover-to-cover reading but it is the type of book that one desires to keep close at hand as a rich cultural resource guide to one of the world's most marvelous ancestral festivals, jubilant Junkanoo.

This fascinating work on Junkanoo can be found in Nassau at the Island Merchants Bookshop (tel.: 242/322-1011; 242/328-8470 (fax) on downtownBay Street along with our own Junkanoo culture cookbook (THIS MAN CAN COOK!- Bahama Papa's Nassau to New York Recipes {and cultural travel treats} - Linda Cousins and Steve "Papa" Newton.) Cyber Cultural Cookbook . Both works make excellent souvenirs and cultural gifts. This Man Can Cook! is also available by mail order or downloadable file by arrangement. Contact us at:

Linda Cousins, Publisher

L. Cousins
Cultural Travel Publications & Promotions
30 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
United States

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