In planning a trip “home” to St. Thomas for this summer, I’ve been reminded of some of the things that make me miss it so. This print would look oh-so-nice on one of my bare walls. Moko Jumbies are stilt dancers that many of you have probably seen during Carnivals on-island and in the states. The tradition is believed to have started in West Africa, with Moko referencing a god and jumbie meaning ghost or spirit. The Moko watched over his village and guarded against intruders using his great height.
Moko initially arrived in Trinidad walking across the Atlantic from the West coast of Africa. 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, during Carnival. Trinidad inhabitants added “Jumbie” to the name and by the early 1900’s, the figures were an integral part of their Carnival, protecting the revelers from evil.
During carnival, parades, and Jump Ups, the dancing, masked stilt walkers are interpretations of the spirits and superstitions of long ago.