Categorized | National News

41 Cultural Warriors Honoured

With The Bahamas’ 41st anniversary only a day away, two Bahamians who are being hailed as cultural warriors are letting the public know how it feels to be a part of the select group of 41 persons set to be honoured during the celebrations.

This year’s celebrations are under the theme “Celebrating our Culture: A Commitment To Peace,” and will honour 41 cultural icons.

James Catalyn, legendary Bahamian playwright and thespian, and Stan Burnside, premier Bahamian cartoonist said they are both pleased and humbled by the selections, which would permanently cement them in Bahamian history and folklore.

“I feel very honoured at the distinction, especially coming at this time of year, the 41st anniversary of us being an independent Bahamas,” said Mr. Catalyn. “Much has transpired over the years and I know some of the struggles we had to go through to achieve independence. The forefathers, those out there in the forefront worked very hard to make The Bahamas what it is today for the younger generations.”

“I am very honoured to be considered a cultural warrior,” Mr. Burnside said. “I know that we probably have more warriors in The Bahamas per capita—we probably lead the world in cultural warriors per capita. So while I am humbled by being chosen as one of the 41, there are so many more that are deserving and could have been chosen instead of me.”

When asked about their take on the evolution of Bahamian culture over the years, Mr. Catalyn said that there has been noticeable progress, but noted that Bahamians have become too acclimated to external influences, and said he desires to have a ministry set aside for honouring Bahamian culture.

“I think that over the years with the exposure that a lot of us had, I think we have moved ahead,” he said. “Junkanoo has truly moved ahead in what they are doing. In theatre I think we have made achievements even though much more can be done. I would like eventually to see a ministry dedicated to culture and culture only as they do in other countries and not be tagged in with other ministries. Over the years a culture ministry has not stood on its own.

“Sometimes when I compare I tend to feel that we had a bit more before independence culturally than we have now. I am from the old school and I believe in things Bahamian. Whereas I have been exposed and we have been exposed to lots of other cultural aspects from around the world, we need to develop and stick with our own.

“The other countries are doing it; they are not stealing anything from The Bahamas and I do not think that we should steal anything from other countries and enforce it on our people.”

Mr. Burnside is of the view that The Bahamas is well on its way to true worldwide prominence, and he believes that the traditional and most recognised form of Bahamians’ cultural expression, junkanoo, is something that could potentially catapult the country to stardom.

“We have become such a powerful nation in terms of our culture, that my brother said once famously, by the year 2020 more visitors will come to The Bahamas for our culture than for fun sand and sea, and I think we are well on our way to realising that dream,” he said, referring to fellow cultural warrior Jackson Burnside. “I think that we are sitting on a goldmine with this thing called junkanoo. This thing called junkanoo, once we harness that energy, it can inspire not only the painters and sculptors, it can inspire the musicians and singers; it can inspire the actors and playwrights and even the playmakers.

“We have a style of art that has been developed by our indigenous creativity, and it is a world class style of art. In fact I would say that our art system has the potential to do even greater things that reggae has done for Jamaica.”

Both Mr. Burnside and Mr. Catalyn however are of the belief that in order for the country to continue to rise to prominence young Bahamians need to become more involved in their culture. For Mr. Catalyn, it is something that young people must develop for themselves or already have within themselves.

“In the earlier days when a lot of us were involved, we did it from the heart,” he said. “We did it for the love of being involved in our cultural experience. I think the advent of television and magazines showing how the stars live in the states; I think right now we have all become very mercenary in those areas. Everyone wants to get rich quick and overnight.

“Culture is not like that and it should not be like that. We must be involved with aspects of our culture for the pure love of it. If a few dollars come on the side then very well and good.”

“I think that we have to realise the potential that young Bahamians have to produce and to create industry through their native talents,” said Mr. Burnside. “I think we just have to find a way to get and identify the best artists who are producing work, and the same way government will support these huge developments, help ensure that they can succeed. Give them stipends, tax breaks, invest and make some sacrifices for the future of our nation by supporting some young Bahamians.

We have world class potential.”
The other 39 cultural warriors are
1. Alphonso Blind Blake Higgs (d) – ‘Jones! ‘O’ Jones Please Bring My Woman Back Home’
2. Amos Ferguson (d)- ‘Solo Exhibition at the Smithsonian’
3. Antonius Roberts – ‘Slave Memorial at Clifton’
4. Baha Men –‘ Who Let the Dogs Out’, FIFA World Cup 2014
5. Becky Chipman (d) ‘Set the world on Fire dance’
6. Beginning of the End – ‘Nassau Gone… Funky Nassau got Soul’
7. Brent Malone (d) ‘Father of Bahamian Modern Art’
8. Buttercup – ‘Limbo King of the Caribbean’
9. Charles Carter –‘The Young Bahamian Show ‘…’ These are Bahamians’
10. Cleophas Adderley Jr. – ‘Our Boys’ …Wind under the wings of the National Youth Choir’
11. Count Bernardino – ‘Take Your Meat Out Me Rice’… “Six Young Girls Across My Chest’
12. E. Clement Bethel (d) – ‘Sammie Swain’… ‘ Muse of the National Arts Festival’
13. Eddie Minnis – ‘Hey Mr. MP lemme see your bank book’ …Pot Luck … “Naughty Johnnie”
14. Ezra Hepburn – ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’… ‘Stop the World I want to Get Off’
15. Freddie Munnings Sr. – ‘Conservatory trained voice’… ‘Social Activist’ … ‘Abaco Beware’
16. George Symonette (d) ‘ Little Nassau’
17. Jay Mitchell – Princess Towers ‘Junka-Party’… ‘Tribute to Smokey’
18. Jeannie Thompson – ‘Zeke and Sophie’… Miss Lye … ‘Fergusons of Farm Road’ …Satirically Speaking’
19. John Berkley Peanuts Taylor – ‘The Drums are Alive’
20. John Chipman – ‘Dat Goatskin Sweet’
21. Joseph Spence (d) The Unsung -‘Mr. Guitar Folk Music Giant’
22. Kayla Lockhart Edwards (d) – ‘Contract Voices’… ‘Back Up for Perry Como’
23. King Eric (d) -‘Once Is Not Enough’… Elite Recording Studio’
24. Leroy Duke Hanna (d) – ‘Small Hope’… Led Musicians Union’
25. Maureen Duvalier-’ Gin N’ Coconut Water … ‘ Ask Me Why I Run’
26. Pandora Gibson Gomez(d) -‘Dramatist …Educator’
27. Patricia Bazard –‘Prepared the children for Independence 1973 … Educator’
28. Paul Meeres (d) -‘The toast of Five Continents’ … ‘ Dancing Machine’
29. Percy Voila Francis and Winston Gus Cooper (d) – ‘They Coming!’
30. Ronnie Butler –‘The Godfather of Bahamian Entertainment’
31. Shirley Hall Bass (d)- ‘The Lady of the Dance’
32. Meta Davis Cumberbatch (d) ‘ The Mother Teacher of our Emerging Culture’
33. Susan Wallace –‘Children’s Literature in the Eye of the Sun ‘… ‘Who is the Woman in this House?’
34. Edmund Moxey –‘Cultural Political Activist’ Muscle and Guts … Jumbey Village’
35. Theophilius Coakley, T Connections – ‘Doing Alright on Saturday Night’
36. Timothy Gibson(d)- ‘My Country of Thee We Sing’
37. Tony Mackay(d)-‘He Came Down on a Lightning Bolt’ …’We Stronger than Steel’
38. Wendall Stuart (d) – “ I Thank Heaven’
39. Winston Saunders (d) ‘Horse’… I, Nehemiah’

Written by Jones Bahamas

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