Derrick Brown leads the Bahamanian Junkanoo band, which has taken the CARIFTA Games by storm. *Photo by Raymond Hainey
Derrick Brown leads the Bahamanian Junkanoo band, which has taken the CARIFTA Games by storm. *Photo by Raymond Hainey

SUNDAY, APRIL 8: The Bahamas may be trailing powerhouse Jamaica in the medals league table, but the country is winning the battle of the bands.

The traditional Junkanoo band is winning hearts and minds at the CARIFTA Games at the National Stadium.

And band leader Derrick Brown said it may be giving the Bahamian athletes a lift as well.

Mr Brown said: “It’s a tradition we try to keep going at Carifta. We try to bring the band down and have entertainment in the stands as well as on the track.”

Mr Brown added the country’s athletes appreciated the noise from the band, which includes drums, a tuba, cowbells, horns and a colander, as well as other instruments.

He said: “It’s vitally important – it’s a huge part of our culture. At Christmastime, there’s a big Junkanoo festival and it brings everybody together. It’s something that defines us.

“Whenever we play, it’s sure to give all of our athletes a lift when they hear it. It’s a rhythm thing as well as helping lift their spirits.”

Mr Brown added: “We hope it’s an advantage to the Bahamas. Everybody else certainly seems to love it. We try to get the band playing to lift the whole atmosphere.

“Irrespective of the final results, we’ve really enjoyed Bermuda and enjoyed performing.”

One of the Bermudian officials at the event said: “It really sounds like the Bahamas is the home crowd here. They really add to the atmosphere.”

Junkanoo has its roots in the 17th century and the secret festivals staged by slaves in the Bahamas.

It has developed into a major Bahamian art form and is now a celebration of freedom from oppression.

Variations also exist in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos.

Major Junkanoo festivals are held all over the Bahamas, as well as in the US in places like Miami, where there are significant communities descended from Bahamian and Jamaican immigrants.