How to Put An End to Annual Controversy Over Junkanoo Results

Junkanoo-ControversyHas there ever been a successful Junkanoo Parade where nobody felt cheated?

If so, please leave a comment and let me know, because I don’t remember a parade where someone didn’t feel cheated.

It seems every year we have the same controversy. Like clock work; after the results are read, someone will be chanting “They Rob Us, They Rob Us”. It Never fails.

A facebook friend put it this way;

Everyone can’t win no matter what Flowers says, and everyone can’t be the best no matter what your parents told you. :-) SAXONS on ERRY-TING!!

Obviously he’s a Saxons fan,  but regardless of your group, the fact remains everyone can’t win. 

The belief that Junkanoo parades are rigged in favor of a particular group, or that the judges are biased, takes away from what should be wonderful celebration of our culture.

After the latest controversial parade results, I decided to try figuring out the reason for the yearly controversy and (as is the norm here on Straight Talk) suggest some solutions.

Cause of Junkanoo controversy

I think the cause of all this controversy can be attributed to two things;

  1. Lack of public knowledge about the rules of Junkanoo
  2. Poor communication of how the scoring is done

Sometimes the judges and the crowds are so far apart on who they selected as the winner, that you’d think they attended two different parades. Well, in a way they did.

Thats because the crowd decides which group won the parade based on;

  1. How the costumes looked
  2. How the music sounded
  3. How the group performed

The judges on the other hand are required to judge ton of other things. They also deduct penalty points for infractions that may go unnoticed by the average spectator.

The end result is controversy.

Judges Penalties

Fans will probably never recognize the numerous infractions that a group incurs prior to and during a parade. This is why they are shocked and feel cheated when they hear the parade results at the end of judging.

Here are just a few of the penalties that a group can receive during a parade;

  • Failure of a group or participant in the individual category to be ready for entry onto the parade route at the official time and place for entry. 300 point penalty
  • Groups having more than two wheels attached in any manner to a lead costume while making an official lap on the parade route. 100 point penalty per infraction
  • Having more than one lead costume carrier lifting a costume at the same time while on an official lap on the parade route.  100 point penalty
  • Failure to meet official time limits for group category while on parade route. 100 points penalty
  • Obstruction on official parade route subject to 100 points penalty
  • Use of electronic means to amplify or enhance live music subject to 100 points penalty
  • Any person in cloth costume not wearing an official cloth costume number subject to 5 points penalty per person.

source: Junkanoo Corporation New Providence Limited

As I said these are just a few of the penalties to give you an idea of what judges are looking for.

Then there are also 15 different costume categories, each with very specific definitions of how they should be made, decorated and worn. If the group does not adhere to the specifications it could also cost them points.

Here’s an example of a costume category definition;

Free Dancer: A Free Dancer Costume (other than the six approved for cloth) is defined as a fully pasted costume which may include a skirt, pants or robe. Shoulder piece is optional, headdress, pants or cloth skirt, shirt or bareback. It is not necessary for a Free Dancer Costume to have any backdrop on the shoulder piece if a shoulder piece is carried. Footwear covered with any material.

Based on the numerous penalties and other infractions  you can see how easily a group  could perform well overall but still lose based on penalties.

Organizers really need to figure out a way to prevent the almost yearly controversy.

Steps to Prevent Junkanoo Controversy

I’m am a firm believer in transparency and communication. In order to avoid controversy organizers should make it clear how the groups are being judged and why they are being penalized. So I’d suggest the following steps be taken;

  1. Educate the public: Prior to the parades, educate the public on what judges will be looking for during the parades. Make it simple for the average person to understand, perhaps a “Top 10 things judges look for” or “10 common reasons Junkanoo groups are penalized” list. Put it on one sheet flyer and give it out with ticket purchases and at the parades. Simple.
  2. Be Transparent: After reading the official results, provide the Junkanoo Groups and the general public with a break down of the score and penalties given to each group. 
  3. Ban the “They Rob Us” chant by groups members and leaders. NBA and NFL team members/coaches/owners are not allowed to criticize their respective leagues for a reason. It is bad for the league’s image and for the fans. Junkanooers and group leaders should not criticize The Junkanoo Parades for the same reasons.
  4. Allow Fan Input: I’m not really sure how this would be done exactly, but many tv shows such as American Idol have allowed fans to play a role in choosing the winner. This is something that should be considered for Junkanoo.

The constant controversy over Junkanoo parade results is bad for Junkanoo. It turns what should be a celebration of our culture into something ugly, petty and mean spirited.

I hope this is the last year of this nonsense.

Your Turn

What do you think is the cause of all this controversy? Do you agree with my take or is there another reason. Let me know in the comments below. 

Also what are some other ways that our annual Junkanoo Parades could be improved?

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  1. Paul says

    From your average ignorant tourist… we had no idea there were rules and controversial judging. Whew!  We just enjoy the parade, which ought to be the primary reason for having one.

    • says

      Completely agree Paul! 

      The competition aspect of the parades has led to some ugly moments in recent years. Junkanoo should be more of a cultural celebration than a competition. Hopefully organizers find a way to bring it back to what it was originally.

  2. Bahamaboiii says

    I think it is high time we go to instant electronic scoring. The judges would post their scores immediately after they are finished scoring in their respective events. But the real chalkenge is who we select as scorers, it is believed that thebpool of judges are corrupt. I dont necessarily subscribe to this belief but I do understand why this view is adopted by most. I am of the view that we have enough culural unbiased cultural icons who can assist with the management of the parade. I do agree that the scoring ought to be communicated better and with more transparency. I dont know if the lowest and highest score is disgarded to bring about a better balance just a thought. I think judges must be held accountible as well, if questioned we need to know where the scores are coming from and perhaps defend their reasoning behind close doors to an independent tribunal.

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