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Moko Fest celebrates Afro-Caribbean culture

PHILIPSBURG: This Sunday, July 3rd at Emilio Wilson Park, the FuntopiaYouth Initiative Foundation launches its “Moko Fest” festival which will celebrate Afro-Caribbean culture from above as the art of stilt walking and the Moko Jumbie will be featured.

The combination of Moko (African reference to God) and Jumbie (West Indian term for ghost or spirit) characterizes the art of stilt walking, an art brought to the Caribbean from West Africa by deported slaves. A Moko Jumbie wears a colorful costume and a carnival mask. Demonstrations are common in Trinidad and Tobago as a celebration of freedom during Carnival, and have been since the 1900s. Despite the lack of records, the Moko Jumbie has also been imported to St. Maarten, and Funtopia is keeping the tradition alive. Active since 2014, the Funtopia Youth Initiative foundation works for youth, offering classes to children in elementary schools on the Dutch side to teach them to walk on stilts.

The choice of Emilio Wilson Park is no accident for the organizing team. A place of great spiritual and cultural influence on the community, this park located in Philipsburg has strong historical roots in St. Maarten being a former slave plantation. The foundation encourages people to dress in their African, Afro-Caribbean and Afropunk clothing to celebrate the Black experience. 100 stilt walkers from the Soualigan Giants troupe, adults as well as children participating in the community’s after school stilt walking program will march in the Moko Fest. The festival will start at 8am and end at 8pm. For one day, Emilio Wilson Park will be transformed into a cultural village with food booths, Caribbean crafts and local products.

Big Al (AlstonLourens) will be the master of ceremonies, informing the public of the program, including a morning yoga session with C. Piper, Afrobeat Zumba with Nico, Capoeira demonstration by Soualiga Capoeira Group, mini parade by GNSTM Drum Band, poetry performances and of course, music with Ma’At King, EbonyEmpress, King Vers, DCG, Charise Piper, DeejayVybz, DJ Bat KO, etc. Special presentations will also be given by dancer Dashaun Prince and special guests from Trinidad and Tobago (Daddy Jumbie and Russel Grant) award-winning and internationally recognized Moko Jumbies.Free stilt walk demonstrations for young and old will take place. In the Kids Zone, children who prefer to stay grounded can enjoy bouncy castles, trampolines, face painting and special games.

 

Info: mokofestsxm@gmail.com

Facebook: Funtopia Youth Initiative

Tickets: free for children under 5 years old

Children from 5 to 17 years old: $10

Adults: $20

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