Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day LXV - Moko Jumbie

Long-legged dancer,
Migrated from Africa,
Towering spirit.

Jumbies are ghosts or spirits of old West African mythology that - having been exported to the Caribbean - enjoy infamy in the West Indies. Just like the generic term 'ghost', 'jumbie' or 'jumbee' covers a whole range of different supernatural forms across disparate cultures, overall all being dead and generally malevolent. The subject of many superstitions and stories, Jumbies are believed to possess people at ceremonies with much dancing, drum-banging and tributary offerings of rum. The Moko Jumbie is a particularly popular type of phantom in Caribbean culture that inspires carnival parades and keeps the African roots alive to the present day. Legend tells of the gigantic African deity Moko who was able to foresee danger and scares away evil spirits from the village it guards. To represent the massive Moko's migration across the Atlantic Ocean, carnival revellers walk on stilts and bring some high-rise colour and spectacle to celebrations. Jumbies are fun and the dancing stilted spectres with West African mythological roots are outstanding as cool figures in the Caribbean phantom pantheon. All dance along with the jumbies and look up and pay tribute to watchful Moko Jumbie towering above.


  1. Moko Jumbie's are spirirts that protect the village and defend them in battle and guard over them when enemies are near being from the West Indies there are Moko jumbie's at every carnival or big island party

  2. Thanks for reading Tattionyia. I love the way that even when it's no longer felt that guardian spirits need to protect the village (we have a police force and CCTV these days) their legacy lives on in carnivals. I'd love to see the Jumbies at a Caribbean party.