The capital city saw some 45 young Moko Jumbies, dressed as Scarlet Ibis birds, take flight today as the 1000 Mokos movement made their first public march.
The march, coordinated by Michael Lee Poy, served as a public stand against the poaching of the Scarlet Ibis birds. The Mokos walked from the Queen’s Royal College (QRC) football grounds, past the President’s House, around Memorial Square and finished their march at the National Academy for the Performing Arts.
Speaking with Newsday at the QRC grounds, parent Cassandra Petrovani, said the march was the end product of a three week Moko Jumbie camp held at Alice Yard in Port-of-Spain. “The camp was a partnership with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Goodwill Industries of the West Indies and Alice Yard. The movement behind it is the 1000 Mokos movement. We are trying to highlight the heavy poaching of the Scarlet Ibis. It’s all about educating the children,” she said.
Petrovani added that “teaching the children through arts” is a great way to make them aware of social issues. “Children are the future. My daughter told me the other day that soon we wouldn’t have any Scarlet Ibis birds. That’s profound and extremely disheartening,” she said.
Asked how children and the rest of society could be involved in various social issues, Petrovani said that more investment needs to be made for “programs like these.” She said that the march was supposed to take place on Friday, but was postponed due to the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union rally.
In preparation for the march, the children, according to Petrovani, designed their costumes themselves. “The kind of creativity in this program is important for them [the children] to understand the culture and history of our country. Over the years, we have lost the voice of Carnival and mas. This takes us back to the purpose,” she said.
Kriston Chen, from Alice Yard, said the group’s weekly Moko Jumbie sessions on Sunday evenings began in February and that the children’s progression throughout the weeks in stilt walking was great. He said he was “super excited” for the march and that the energy of the children was infectious. He described the three week camp as “intense.”
Also speaking with Newsday, a busy Lee Poy, who began stilt walking in 2001, while in Cleveland, Ohio, said the use of stilt walking to raise awareness for an environmental issue was a “learning curve” for him.
Sophie Wight, whose daughter was one of the Moko Jumbies, said that she knew there was “no better option” for her daughter than to attend the three week camp. “This program gives her appreciation for other things. It’s a little foundation.”