Moko Jumbie Students Greet Ferry Passengers

Moko Jumbie Students Greet Ferry Passengers

What a spectacular way to arrive on St. John!  You have had a long travel day, maybe portions of it not so smooth.  You FINALLY exit the ferry in Cruz Bay and are greeted by absolutely awesome moko jumbies in training yelling “Welcome to St. John!”  What an incredibly beautiful way to arrive in Love City.

If you are arriving on the 5’o’clock boat from Red Hook on Thursday, be on the lookout for the world’s greatest welcoming committee!

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Eight mini-moko jumbies, led by their talented and passion driven leader, Yisrael Petersen, stood at attention at the Cruz Bay ferry dock last Thursday.  They were cued up to greet the arriving 5PM ferry from Red Hook, filled with both visitors and commuting residents.

I speak here a lot about the cultures and traditions of St. John natives and the difficulty in finding resources to learn about them on island.  Well, the moko jumbie is a perfect example of one of these time honored traditions and Yisrael’s coordination of this welcoming committee is a spectacular way to showcase a cultural element of St. John to newly arriving visitors.

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Yisrael tends to a student’s traditional costume.

You see, in Central Africa, the word “moko” means healer and “jumbie” means spirit or ghost in West Indian.  Moko Jumbies have been a part of the culture in the Virgin Islands for more than 200 years and date back to the 13th or 14th century in West African culture.  West Africans view the moko jumbies as a seeker or protector and their height as a symbol of a godlike trait, allowing them to see approaching evil before it arrives with time to warn their community of impending threats.  In their traditional garb, you would find them adorned with mirrors to scare away evil spirits, afraid to see their own reflection.  In West African culture, it is believed that Moko Jumbies mocked the evil spirits and scared them away with their own likeness.

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Taking a little break while waiting for the crowds 🙂

So, if you are around town on Thursday evening…Or, better yet, are arriving on that 5PM ferry…Stop by to give these kids and their instructor a good cheer as they work to infuse time honored traditions and Afro-Caribbean culture into a welcoming committee for our visitors here on St. John.  More of this please 🙂

Welcome to St. John!

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