Grenada jab jab mas’ and music culture origin is West Africa


Grenada jab jab mas’ and music culture origin is West Africa

By Hudson George

I have done my research on African culture and found out that Grenada’s jab jab masquerade has its roots in West Africa. Therefore, as Grenadians, we should be very proud to know that we have some West African traditions as part of our culture and as long as we exist as a people and nation, the tradition must continue. As long as we protect and preserve it.

Basically, our jab jab mas’ and music highlight is always a major highlight in Grenada Carnival celebration. As a matter of fact, since the days of slavery on the plantation, when Grenada was under French rule. However, the tradition continued after the British took control from the French as our last colonizer up to 1974, when Grenada became an independent country.

The jab jab mas’ and music always attract the majority of citizens to come out on the street during carnival celebration. The build up to carnival starts when jab jab mas’ players organised themselves throughout the different villages and practice to dance and compose songs for the two days carnival celebration on the streets. For example, skinny Banton song, “Soak it” shows how organised the jab jab culture is. His lyrics in the dong tell a story about the jab jab culture.

Based on my research looking at video documents on West African cultural festivals and the various traditions they portray. I saw the video from Cameron. It is very similar to jab jab mas’culture. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that our jab jab mas’ culture definitely has its origins in West Africa and it as remain as it is , on the street of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique during our carnival celebration. There is nothing else that can change in the jab jab culture because it is historical.

In addition, in my research, I came to realise that Africans on Cape Verde Islands carnival and their version of masquerade is very similar to Grenada jab jab. This video of Cape Verde Carnival. For example, tells it all.

Additionally, I was in Grenada for the entire year 2007 and I used to travel from my village Hermitage and go to Sauteurs town, which is about four miles inside the northern parish, St. Patrick, on a regular basis. I travelled to just go sit down on the incomplete jetty and look at the activities on the sea water, where the fishermen anchor their boats. The environment on the jetty was peaceful and the breeze coming from the sea was an enjoyment to me.

Most of the time I visited the jetty, there was an elderly man from Prospect village, who used to come on the jetty to catch fish as a form of recreation. One day the elderly man told me some stories about jab jab culture and how Grenadian drummers made a fusion from different style of drumming during nation dance celebrations to create a new version of jab jab music that we enjoy today. Based on the story he told me, it is evidential proof of the fusion of jab jab music.

As a matter of fact the elderly man told me he is a Spiritual Baptists priest. He told me that some of the biggest nation dance festivals used to take place on Isle de Ronde, which is a small island outside Sauteurs town, where people do farming and fishing for their livelihood.

The reason why I wrote this article is make Grenadians aware that we must not divert from our culture and follow what is popular in the other Caribbean countries that have bigger populations than us. We must preserve our culture.

The roots of jab jab culture in the rural communities is very important as the La Fillette jab jab band portrays.

However, I end this article with this video of jab jab masqueraders dancing street theatre during the carnival. Indeed, they beat traditional jab jab drum that can move the soul of Grenadians. And I know they are the Tivoli Drummers moving the biggest jab jab band in St. George’s. Therefore, it is very important to keep the jab jab culture deep in the roots that lies in West Africa.

So, let us continue to play a wicked jab, Tallpree


A writer from Grenada living in Canada

2 thoughts on “Grenada jab jab mas’ and music culture origin is West Africa”

  1. This is not an “in depth” article on the underlying rationale for Jab Jab. This form of ritual owes it origins to the Orisha, Elegba, who was the first called and who opened the doors to life. He is associated with the colour “Black” ( and White). The ritual of painting on black tells the Yoruba religious belief of Black being associated with “life giving”. But instead, we superficially associated Jab Jab with the “burning of cane” and the “volte face” objection to our former (plantation) colonial masters.

    1. Hudson George – I am a Grenadian writer who thinks out of the box. I use my creative imagination and organised my writing. I believe words are powerful weapons. So, I write to tell my stories.

      Michael Julien, maybe is you who don’t have an in depth knowledge about West African culture. I have videos as reference in my article to back up my discourse topic. Before the European divided up Africa into different countries, there were no borders. I included videos with Jab Jab Masquerades in Cameroon and other African countries in my article, portraying the same Jab Jab characters as we do in rural Grenada.
      Prior to the Europeans dividing Africa into different countries Cameroon and Nigeria was one land with some of the same tribes. There are people in Nigeria and Cameroon that speak the same African languages because they are originated from the same tribes.
      You are claiming that my article is lacking “in depth”, as if you think you know everything about Africans and Africa cultures.

      After I wrote the article, I met Africans from Ghana and Nigeria who told me that there are Jab Jab masquerades in their country too.
      It is still on you path to link Jab Jab masquerades in Grenada with Orisha alone, when you are lacking the knowledge and information about other ethnic groups in West Africa.
      Additionally, you seem to be focusing on Nigeria as a country where the Yoruba tribe is about 30 Million and more and the Orisha deity is known to you only in Nigeria. You are wrong. There are Yoruba’s in other countries on the African continent.
      It seems as though you don’t know that there are Yoruba people living in other African countries, and they are called by different names.
      For example, the Edo people of Nigeria are Yoruba’s too. There are some small tribes in the Delta region of Nigeria that Yoruba’s too. The Ga people of Ghana are Yoruba’s too.
      The Temne people of Sierra Leone are a branch of Yoruba too. They make annual visit to Carriacou, Grenada to meet villagers of their tribe.
      If you are a Grenadian from St. George parish and you attended the GBSS or PBC, it is expected that you will condemned all Grenadians writers who didn’t attend schools in St. George’s, when they write cultural articles.
      I am sick and tired of you all. You people always want to put down the majority of us Grenadians who are from the outer parishes, whenever we come forward do and say something politically, culturally and academically, in order for you minority group to hold on to the old British colonial legacy in the south of Grenada, while the citizens in St. George parish have lost their Grenadian culture and heritage.
      All that you guys are doing is, to try to be the elites in all aspect of everything in Grenada with the notion that claiming academic superiority, but lacking the ability to do anything in the physical that is indigenous culturally to represent Grenada culturally.
      You sound like another Chester Humphrey and the of PRG cadres. The old colonial culture of always putting down Grenadians who are not in you all circle. You are the first person who is feisty enough to tell me that the article lacks in depth.
      Go ahead and write a similar piece on this same topic with you superior “in depth.” I am positive, that I know more about African history and culture than you.

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