Junkanoo: a celebration of freedom, Bahamas-style

I was captivated by the transformation of Yoruba, Igbo and other West African masked spiritual traditions, having survived the middle passage and the inhumanity of slavery, into the festive contemporary pageantry of Junkanoo. Having studied West African dance myself, I recognised the fluid and cadenced  moves of the dancers, as they pulsed to the syncopated rhythms of a variety of brass instruments and drums fashioned out of recycled barrels. There was a palpable joy. both in the procession and the stands of spectators, as no one was immune to the spirit of the occasion. To me it seemed a testament to the power of the human spirit to rise up and create beauty with art, despite the origination of this tradition in the abomination of the slave trade.

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Michelle Bachelet, in her second term as President of Chile has redoubled efforts,to return large sections of land to Mapuche ownership, especially in the region near Temuco. At the same time, these efforts have been undermined by large corporate forestry concessions that stand between the essential water run-off from the Andes that would ordinarily feed the streams and rivers of Araucania. In the years subsequent to the development of these concessions, there has been an increase in the number and scale of forest fires in the region that devastate important tracts of land and compromise water quality, water that the Mapuche depend on to sustain their small-scale farms.

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