moko jumbies

Moko Jumbies. Carnival. Trinidad and Tobago.

The stilt dancers known throughout the Caribbean, are traditional folk characters that were originally brought from West Africa. The word “Moko” is derived from the name of a West African God and “jumbie” or “ghost” was added by liberated slaves after Emancipation. It was believed that the height of the stilts was associated with the ability to foresee evil faster than ordinary men. The Moko Jumbie was felt to be a protector of the village.

Ras Nijinsky in drag as Pavlova in Peter Minshall’s The Dying Swan, King of the Bands Preliminaries, Trinidad & Tobago, 28/01/16.

“After a hiatus of almost a decade, mas man Peter Minshall on Thursday night returned to the Queen’s Park Savannah stage with a design that looked back one hundred years, and fused the Moko Jumbie with the Ballet Russes. ‘The Dying Swan’ – a mas designed and directed by Minshall – floated across the Big Yard, brought to life by former King of Carnival Jha-whan Thomas. With the simple addition of toes and heels, the stilts of the Moko Jumbie became a ballet dancers’ elongated calves, feet en pointe.” 


Nicki Minaj’s latest video was shot in Trinidad & Tobago, where she was born and where my Mom and much of my family is from.  It’s got some stunning scenic shots in locations iconic to anyone familiar with the country.  Classic carnival characters make appearances, like blue devils and moko jumbies (the stilt-walkers) which my mother adores, along with a cameo from Machel Montano, probably the biggest Soca artist ever.  I knew she’d appreciate having these so I took some stills from the video to send to her.  (Part 1 of 2)

“You fraid de Devil Jab Jab

Yah fraid him bad Jab Jab

Well look de Devil Jab Jab

Right in ya yard”

Happy Carnival Monday - In honor of Trinidad and Tobago 2014 Carnival and Jourvert Morning. “Flight of de Moko Jumbie 2) Watercolor on paper by artist Alison Wells.