Moko jumbie

Moko jumbie dancers in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

A moko jumbie (also known as "moko jumbi" or "mocko jumbie") is a stilts walker or dancer. The origin of the term may come from "Moko" (a possible reference to an African god) and "jumbi", a West Indian term for a ghost or spirit that may have been derived from the Kongo language word zumbi. The Moko Jumbies are thought to originate from West African tradition brought to the Caribbean.

A Moko Jumbie character may wear colorful garb and carnival masks. They also frequent festivals and celebrations such as Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

While the god Moko is from the Kongo (or Congo) and Nigeria, from the Nuapa people, Trinidad and Tobago has added their own touch to him. Moko, in the traditional sense, is a god. He watches over his village, and due to his towering height, he is able to foresee danger and evil. His name, Moko, literally means the “diviner” and he would be represented by men on towering stilts and performs acts that were unexplainable to the human eye. In one remote tribe, the Moko rises from a regular mans’ height to the skies fluidly with no help and descends similarly to leave others to wonder how he performed such an act.

The Moko arrived in Trinidad by “walking all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from the West coast of Africa, laden with many, many centuries of experience, and, in spite of all inhuman attacks and encounters, yet still walks tall, tall, tall. (John Cupid, Caribbean Beat)” The idea of the Moko survived by living in the hearts of African descendants during slavery and colonial life to eventually walk the streets of Trinidad in a celebration of freedom, Carnival. While this figure was rooted in African heritage, Trinidad adapted the figure, notably by adding on Jumbie or ghost to the name. The by the early 1900s Moko Jumbies had become an element of Trinidad’s Carnival. This figure would walk the streets of Port of Spain and other cities protecting the city and revelers from evil. As part of his role in Carnival the Moko Jumbie would accept donations from onlookers in upper floors of buildings. However, his notable figure of Carnival slowly faded until a drastic revival.

By the early 1990s Moko Jumbies were essentially non-existent in Carnival, until two men brought this tradition back. These men, namely Moose and Dragon, have brought the Moko Jumbie back to a place of prominence in Carnival and created a new kind of Moko Jumbie. One man originally brought the idea to them as well as the knowledge of how to make stilts. The style of stilts they walked was very similar to the modern day ones but with one main difference, they had no front leg brace. This changed when a man named Ben Block from Canada, a random traveler, came to Trinidad with a pair of stilts. He had a frontal brace on the upper leg and the Trinidadians took inspiration from this design and used it in their own. Now there are two main Moko Jumbie bands in Trinidad, Watusi and Kilimanjaro, as well as several smaller ones. So while the idea of the Moko came from Africa, Trinidad has made it its own.

In popular culture

In 2009 the U.S. Department of Tourism of the U.S. Virgin Islands adopted the moko jumbie as a symbol for the islands.[1]

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Obeah — This article is about West Indian religion and magic. For obeah within the context of Thelema, see Obeah and Wanga. For the West African monster, see Obia (folklore). Obeah (sometimes spelled Obi, Obea or Obia) is a term used in the West Indies… …   Wikipedia

  • Stigma-Umkehr — ist in der Soziologie ein Begriff für einen Prozess der Entlegitimierung struktureller Diskriminierung seitens der betroffenen sozialen Randgruppen, die gesellschaftliche Institutionen für ihre soziale Ausgrenzung verantwortlich machen. [1] Der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Music of the Virgin Islands — The music of the Virgin Islands reflects long standing West Indian cultural ties to the island nations to the south, the islands African heritage and European colonial history, as well as recent North American influences. Though the United States …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Antigua and Barbuda — Antigua and Barbuda is a Caribbean nation in the Lesser Antilles island chain. The country is a second home for many of the pan Caribbean genres of popular music, and has produced stars in calypso, soca, steeldrum, zouk and reggae. Of these,… …   Wikipedia

  • Antigua Carnival — Infobox musical artist | Name = Antigua Carnival 2008 Img capt = 2008 Carnival Logo Img size = Background = Country host = Antigua and Barbuda Alias = Start = 2008 Died = Location = Antigua Recreation Grounds Instrument = Genre = Calypso Music… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.