Bahamas Celebrates 50th Independence

It’s 2:00 a.m. and downtown Nassau is bustling with activity as people line Bay Street to catch a special 50th Independence People’s Junkanoo Rush. Typically taking place on Boxing Day and on New Year’s Day, the Junkanoo parade features hundreds of local participants in colourful costumes, shaking cowbells and pounding goat-skinned drums.

“We are very proud of our culture. Junkanoo is a small part of our culture but it speaks to the vitality, the energy and passion of our people,” Deputy Prime Minster I. Chester Cooper, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, told PressToday. “It fuses art, music, culture in a very authentic way that connects us to our ancestry.”

From an Ecumenical Service, Military Tattoo & Cultural Show to the cultural celebration, PressToday is on location in Nassau this week to take part in a number of festive events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Bahamas’ independence.

“Independence was and is, a state of mind, an attitude, a conviction, that we will faithfully discharge the weighty responsibilities of sovereignty and self-determination,” Bahamas’ Prime Minister Philip Davis said. “Independence was the first big step on the long journey that continues to take our nation forward and upward.”

The president of The Republic of Rwanda, Prime Ministers from Haiti and Grenada and congresswoman Maxine Waters are just some of the dignitaries taking part in the celebration.

“We are very proud of our country,” added Cooper. “It’s been 50 years of independence and we are extremely proud of the country we’ve built. We’ve been in the tourism industry just as long. Tourism continues to be our mainstay, it continues to contribute 60% to our overall GDP.”

Ahead of the Ecumenical Service, Military Tattoo & Cultural Show, featuring members of The Bahamas’ police force and firefighters on the location where The Bahamas became an independent nation 50 years ago, King Charles also sent a video message stating: “From Andros to San Salvador, Eleuthera to Inagua, Grand Bahama to Nassau and across the beautiful family islands of the Commonwealth of Bahamas, my wife and I send you all our warmest and most heartfelt congratulations at this very special time,” he said. “Forward, Upward, Onward, Together. Happy fiftieth anniversary of independence. March On Bahamaland!”