Monday, November 2, 2015

Seven Videos Of Caribbean Stilt Walking (Moko Jumbies)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information and comments about stilt walking and stilt dancing (Moko Jumbies) in the Caribbean* and showcases seven video examples of stilt walking and stilt dancing in that region.

An alphabetical list of the nations showcased in this post are Guyana, St. Kitts, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Virgin Islands.

Disclaimer: This post isn't meant to be comprehensive depiction of Caribbean stilt walking traditions. A number of other Caribbean stilt walking videos can be found on YouTube.

*Note that one of these videos is of stilt walking in Guyana. Guyana is a South American nation which is also considered part of the Caribbean.

Click for a pancocojams post on traditional African stilt walking.

Also, click for a post on Caribbean influenced moko jumbies (stilt dancing) in the United States.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

Thanks to all those who are featured in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

"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.

...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."...

These examples are given in chronological order according to their publishing dates on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first.

Example #1: Moko Jumbies -- Trinidad Kids Carnival

IsDePanInMe, Uploaded on Dec 13, 2007

The beauty and splendor of Trinidad Carnival. Street Theater at its best.

Example #2: Zanqueros Team extreme Guayana

Erickolivero, Uploaded on Apr 10, 2008

team extreme guayana... demostrando puro talento..
No hay imposibles, Solo mentes incapaces.
no hay limites, el limite lo pones tu.

Example #3: Trinidad Moko Jumbies - Carnival 2011

Pradeep Latchman, Uploaded on Mar 3, 2011

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival 2011 - Moko Jumbies
Music: "Advantage" by Machel Montano

Example #4: Keylemanjahro Moko Jumbies at 2011 Point Fortin Borough Day, Trinidad

Maria Nunes, Uploaded on Aug 26, 2011
"Keylemanjahro" is a updated way of writing “Kilimanjaro”. Since Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa is the highest mountain in Africa, selecting that name for a Moko Jumbie school and group implies excellence.

Here's a link to information about Keylemanjahro Moko Jumbie School of Art & Culture in Trinidad:

Example #5: Mini-Ritual Dancers Moko Jumbie WUK UP in Post Office Square! TUN UP! [Virgin Islands]

Chantel Hoheb, Published on May 2, 2013
2013 St. Thomas Children's Parade.

Follow the Caribbean Ritual Dancers!

2013 Winners of the "50 and Under" troupe category!

Example #6: New Lands Point Fortin Moko Jumbies

point fortin moko jumbies Published on Nov 13, 2013
Here's a comment from this video's discussion thread:
Ali Sylvester, 2014
"New lands jumbies are the best jumbies out of trinidad cause i feel they change the game with new moves i have never see this before on stilts im the ceo of brooklyn jumbies just want to give respect where its do bless up to the team keep keep jumbies alive"

Example #7: Sugar Mass 42 St. Kitts Parade Day 2013/2014: Moko Jumbies

Livingston Huggins, Published on Jan 2, 2014

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