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The Commandos spread spirit of Junkanoo to the world

Published: Aug 10, 2013

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One of the largest and most popular Caribbean festivals in North America, CaribFest, is welcoming the Junkanoo Commandos as one of its most anticipated groups in this year’s parade.

The 8th annual Caribbean Festival kicks off in Norfolk, Virginia next weekend, which will be highlighted by the “Parade of Bands” on Saturday, August 17.

The Junkanoo Commandos is made up of highly gifted, professional patriotic young Bahamian men and women from various Junkanoo groups in New Providence. This ambassadorial team has been spreading the spirit of Junkanoo and The Bahamas to the world, and plan to take Virginia by storm next weekend.

The Commandos are all top participants in the Senior Junkanoo parades, having received awards in a number of highly contested areas over the years. Their Mission: “To positively change the world, and empower persons through the creative arts of Junkanoo.”

In addition to their international work, the Junkanoo Commandos participate in various festivals and events, most recently, they were the closing act to a full day and night of Bahamian culture at the Festival of The Bahamas this summer.

They are also active in schools, and are committed to teaching youngsters about the love of Junkanoo and the skills that come along with it.

Most recently, the group toured Andros and visited schools, before going to Cat Island to host a summer camp for the children on that remote island.

They have also made a commitment to ensure that Junior Junkanoo is established for Cat Islanders.

During the 2010 Junkanoo season, the Junkanoo Commandos helped to introduce to Jr. Junkanoo an off the shoulder prize for high school seniors in the male and female categories. This initiative was introduced to help the children foster their creative skills and strengthen their passion and pride for the art of Junkanoo.

It is one of the goals of the Commandos, to blaze a new trail using every opportunity presented with the tool of Junkanoo. The name of the female trophy is Yoruba the West African Goddess, deity of the rivers that sustain life. She rules love, beauty and the arts, especially dance. The male trophy is Shango, the God of Thunder, Drums and Dance. He is one that was elevated from being a famous warrior and the fourth King of the Yoruba.

The group has held workshops for children on the Isle of Wight in England; professional workshops for Carnival artists in Brighton; and in 2008, the group participated in a three-week national tour of the United Kingdom. In 2010, they took the Brouhaha Festival in Liverpool by storm.

Locally, they helped the Children’s Emergency Hostel, and in 2011, they donated 500 books to Stephen Dillet Primary School.

The Commandos’ visit to Virginia this year may be the group’s biggest feat yet.

Abby Mills, Vice President of the Virginia Caribbean-American Cultural Association, has asked the group to bring even more participants, with their musical instruments and costumes, based on the overwhelming response to their participation at CaribFest last year. Enamored Virginians were wowed by the costumes, so much so that the group was invited to escort the Mayor.

The group is presently on its final push for fundraising as it prepares to make an even greater impression at this year’s festival, which will bring about myriad benefits for The Bahamas, including exposure and greater potential visitors.

The managing director of the group is Dwight Marshall, who works closely with Treilon Stuart, artistic director, and Omar Buchanan, logistics director. Interested sponsors can contact the group at: junkanoocommando@gmail.com or call 422-1908.

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