WHAT IS JAB?
Island Mas UK have brought authentic Jab Jab to the streets of Notting Hill Carnival.
For two years running Jus Jab has been a huge success and we are set to be bigger and better.
Before emancipation, slaves were forbidden to participate in Carnival, but this never stopped their backyard mas. After the end of slavery, gangs of recently liberated slaves, covered in black grease, molasses, or varnish, took to the ident in the Mas. We, the Grenada Jab Jab, are committed to continuing the tradition of resistance and rebellion in honour of our West African ancestors. We continue the tradition of the Jab still celebrated annually in the Egungun festival in Iragbiji, Nigeria. “All over Yoruba land we share the same beliefs that the Egunguns represent the spirits of the ancestors who have descended from the heavens/mountains. It is a period when the dead come to interact with the living. The dead are not dead, so we believe.”
The Jab Jab’s portrayal – the choreography and imagery- bring focus on our African roots. The Jabhornsignify his/her pact with the devil. The Jab is scantily dressed and vulgar as he/she gyrates to the music. The serpent/snake signal gratitude to African fertility deities – Damballah, Wedo-Ayeda, Wedo-Simbi. The chains, whips and other paraphernalia remind us of the suffering endured. The drums reflect the African slave trade. Jab has its own music consisting of drumming, conch shell blowing and Jab chanting. It's authentic, just the way African slaves and ancestors used to do it. The staccato rhythms willcapitivate your soul!streets, and rejoiced in their freedom. Scantily dressed, and sometimes with chains and padlocks around their legs, the former slaves attempted to offend polite society, which they blamed for decades of suffering. Since the Carnival was prettified and commercialized in the late 20th century, these traditional masqueraders have become less visible, their distinctive dances, speeches, and rituals are disappearing.
Thejabmolassie — the name means “molasses devil” in French patois — is one of the oldest Carnival characters, possibly dating back to the days of slavery. He represents the ghost of a slave who met his death by falling into a vat of boiling molasses in a sugar factory. The story has changed from the old Jab-Molassi to the new, more familiar devil-like character.The jab jab — patois for “double devil” — has a similar name to the jab molassie, but a different history. The Jab Jab occupies a space between the worlds of life and death. The difference among various forms of devil mas were once distinct but have become blurred over time.