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The diaspora in Abidjan : JouvayFest carnival coming to MASA Festival

One of the big attractions of the MASA 2018 will be no doubt, the celebration of Jouvay, major carnival of the black diaspora living in the Caribbean and the United States, on the banks of the lagoon Ebrié. Meaning dawn, open day or morning, the Jouvay ou J’ouvert was created more than 150 years ago in Trinidad where, denied access to the local carnival organized by white masters, black slaves decided to create their own. By using their own rituals and folklore from Africa. Dressed in colorful costumes and their face covered with caricature masks to mock the masters, they party to the sound of musical instruments made from recycled materials.

It is this tradition representing the essence of their African culture that the Caribbean diaspora nationals living in the United States (Barbados, Trinidad, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica) have decided to perpetuate. For fifty years, the day before the Labor Day in the United States, the group Jouvay Fest organizes with great fanfare the J’ouvert in New York. More than 1 million people flock to the streets of Brooklyn every year to take part in this debauch of sounds and colors whose joints take up the themes dear to their ancestors from the black continent. Composed of several sections, Jouvay Fest is a large ensemble that includes the groups Pagwah Mas, Something Positive and Steel Band.

In a warm and colorful atmosphere, they tell the story of I opened in sumptuous and sometimes scary pageantry. The musical and acoustic part is ensured, as at the beginning, by steel pots, percussions and iron cans, not forgetting the essential drums and brass bands. To amplify the event and make it a popular festival, Jouvay Fest has signed a partnership with the famous Ivorian called Popo Carnival Bonoua (located 50 km east of Abidjan, which in 2017 was at its 37th edition). This first in the history of the MASA will be one also for the members of Jouvay Fest, but on a very intimate plan … They, the survivors of the slave trade, will tread for the first time the land of their ancestors. Realizing thus the dream after which so much languished their parents and that expresses with intensity the I opened. Will it be possible to imagine the emotions that will assail them at that moment? This will be the MASA 2018 too.


Yolande ABY

(Translation: Ladell MCLIN)

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