Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moko Jumbie

No celebration in the Virgin Islands (British or US) is complete without moko jumbies, and they were out in force at the Festival parade.

At a basic level, moko jumbies are dancing stilt-walkers, and have been traditional at Trinidad's Carnival since the early 1900s. More recently, the USVI adopted the moko jumbie as the official symbol of the territory. But the history and mythology of the moko jumbie are more extensive than that.

In Caribbean culture, a jumbie is any ghost or spirit. Jumbies are often thought to possess animals, and seem to be easy to confuse. Jumbies also love a good dance, and in Montserrat, there is a dance specifically to conjure up as many jumbies as possible.

Meanwhile, in West African tradition, Moko was a god who, by dint of being very tall, was able to watch over the people and foresee danger and evil. Some Trinidadians believe that Moko arrived there by walking across the Atlantic from the coast of West Africa.

And so we have Moko Jumbies. The spirits of the god Moko, walking tall, protecting the people, and dancing.

1 comment:

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