Updated: Jul 12, 2021
By - Nadia Goodhart
Craaaack! The air hummed as the bull whip sailed through the air. Chains dragged along the pavement dripping with grease and paint. You could smell the sweat dripping down the oil slicked bodies as they wavered through the streets crying out in anguish as they walked in the shadows of their slaved-bound ancestors.
They are the Jab Jab. The devils, the haunted. This is one of the first forms of Carnival. In the times of slavery dating back to the 1800s, some of the slaves imitated their masters by donning pretty masks, singing songs and dressing like them. But some slaves dressed as the devils themselves. They felt the wrath of their masters, so they donned the whips. They were enslaved and ripped from their ancestral homes hence the chains. They poured oil and paint over their bodies to never forget the colour of their skin. These traditions continued following emancipation.
You can hear them call out with their horns and whistles. This is dirty mas but an all important one. These are the masqueraders that will challenge your perception of carnival with their garish costumes. These are the masqueraders that open Carnival (J’Ouvert). These are the masqueraders that will show you what freedom from slavery really looks like. This is Carnival.