AN EXCITING DISPLAY OF AFRICAN CULTURE WITH CARIBBEAN FLARE

THE ART OF MOCKO JUMBIE STILT DANCING


Mocko Jumbie Dancing (or Stilt Dancing) originated in West Africa. The art came about according to one myth, when some native tribesmen built their huts on stilts high above the ground due to excessive flooding during certain times of the year. In order to get to their huts, they developed the art of stilt walking. The most commonly known myth, however, states that the art of stilt walking was practiced by the African tribe’s witch doctor who towered himself over the village in order to see and ward off evil spirits. The word “jumbie” means spirit and “mocko” (as in mockery), means imitation or likeness. Hence, Mocko Jumbie means imitation or likeness of a spirit.


Mocko Jumbie Dancing came to the Caribbean Islands in the Early 1900s.


Mocko Jumbies were traditionally male, but the art of stilt dancing has become popular among women as well.Throughout the years, there have been significant changes in the costumes and makeup of a Mocko Jumbie. Traditionally, African-inspired costumes and masks were used to conceal the identity of the Mocko Jumbie. The costumes of a Mocko Jumbie today tend to be more elaborate containing bright colors, sequins and various printed fabrics to beautify and add excitement to the high stepper. Also, headpieces and theatrical makeup are often worn along with or in place of a mask. Mocko Jumbie Stilt Dancing is one of the most exciting displays of African-Caribbean culture and has become a true symbol of this culture in many parts of the world.

History