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Jab jabs of Jouve'

Lisa DuBois | New York, United States

Organization: En Foco

Two Jab jabs preparing for a day of mischief and celebration at the Juvi parade in Brooklyn , New York. photo © Lisa Dubois

There are aspects of history that are so horrific people create outrageous ways to tell the story.The origin of the J’ouvert parade is perfect example. J’ouvert means daybreak in patois, an appropriate name for a parade that begins after midnight and peaks at sunrise.

In 1838 emancipation from slavery in the Carribean Islands allowed former slaves to participate in J’ouvert. Costumes symbolize key characters that played a role in the life of a slave. Most people witnessing J’ouvert for the first-time are curious about the unusual costumes worn by the paraders. In the Caribbean’s post slavery era J’ouvert became theatre art for former slaves to act out feelings of frustrations and Juvi evolved into a dark satirical visual representation of the colonialists. <>

This essay focuses on one group of paraders known as jab jabs. Jab jabs are devils representing the evil inflicted upon slaves. Some represent ghosts returning to haunt their former slave masters. Jabjabs  have horns are covered in black oil and carry slave chains to resemble a slave on an auction block. 

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