Jump-Up and Celebrate
An important aspect of any culture is music and means of celebration. A typical celebration is Junkanoo and evolved during the days of slavery. The earliest recording of Junkanoo was in 1811. But did the Africans from Trouvadore add anything to these celebrations?
Junkanoo is also described as Massing, Masquerade and Jump-up. In the early days, Islanders would wear old clothes painted with bright colors or they would tie colorful strips of ribbons and cloth to their clothes along with other costumes made from cardboard and crepe paper. The picture above and below right shows Junkanoo in South Caicos in 1978.
In these costumes Islanders would dance to the rhythm of the goatskin drums, cowbells and other handmade percussion instruments. They would go house to house singing songs and performing for money, food, candy and drinks.
These days (see photo at left Junkanoo 2002) Junkanoo is more organized. Groups from different settlements compete against each other for the most outrageous costumes or the best drummers and rhythm section. The costumes have become elaborate, depicting different themes and characters.
Junkanoo happens throughout the year for public holidays and local events. Visitors can see the biggest Junkanoo celebrations on Emancipation Day, Boxing Day and the early morning of New Years Day in particular.
Junkanoo is also celebrated in Jamaica where it maintains much of its old world character and the Bahamas where it has evolved into a more carnival type affair. The most popular groups in the Turks & Caicos Islands are the ‘We Funk Group” and “The Predators,” in Providenciales; “The Corn Shuck Group” in North Caicos and “The OBB Group” and “The Back-Salina Group” in Grand Turk.