‘Jumping up’ in Antigua

Anthony Joseph

By Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph, publisher of The Caribbean Camera, was one of two Canadian media representatives who were in Antigua for the recent carnival as guests of the government of Antigua and Barbuda.

Carnival Monday in Antigua started as most carnivals in the Caribbean except for one thing: some Antiguans held private morning “jams” before joining the massive J’ouvert “jump up” on the streets.

We attended one of these private events called “Dutty Mas,”” put on by the group, Insane. It was held at a suitable location for getting “dutty” – one of Antigua’s 365 beautiful beaches.

After taking part in the “Dutty Mas,’” revellers had a bath in the sea, then headed to one of the two water trucks on the beach for a quick rinse.

Claudette Peters

Then it was off to downtown Saint John’s for the main morning event – the J’ouvert – where we were greeted by many enjoying the early morning “jump up.” And it was there that we met a lovely young lady who served up a great Antiguan breakfast – ‘goat water,’ fish and dumplings and a bottle of orange juice. 

As J’ouvert came to an end for yet another year and the blazing Antigua sun came out in its glory, it was time for us to head back to our hotels to get ready for the evening “jump up.”

That evening we headed first to the Antigua tourism hospitality booth on Queen Elizabeth Highway for some refreshments. The booth was set up with tables filled with Caribbean delicacies such as coconut turnovers, patties, currant rolls, and ice cream in three flavours – coconut, pineapple, and mango – made by Althea Davis.

We soon discovered that Althea Davis has the well-deserved reputation of being the best ice cream maker in the island.

Her husband who we knew only as “Mr. Davis,” proudly told us that Althea has been making ice cream for the Governor General and members of the Antigua and Barbuda government.

And on a recent visit to Antigua, Prince Harry also had a chance to taste her wares.

At the carnival, the government of Antigua and Barbuda gave out samples of her ice cream to hundreds on the streets of St. John’s.

If you like ice cream, I suggest that you try Althea Davis’ taste treats when next you visit Antigua.

Carnival Tuesday in Antigua was clearly a scaled-down event. Masqueraders took to the streets from about two p.m. and we saw the re-introduction of floats in the festival.

But as carnival aficionados noted, although the carnival was scaled down, it still delivered a punch. 

To the steady beat of calypso music, hundreds of children, some as young as six years of age, came out in their “cheerleading” costumes, marching and dancing across the city.

Also among the special attractions in the parade was the calypso monarch, Trevor King, aka King Zacari, who won the crown singing “Of A Darker Hue.”  Dressed in full regalia, he sat on his throne waving to the crowd.

And the Tourism Authority created quite a splash with its own float with two magnificent-looking women in full costumes.

There was a strong steel pan contingent on the parade route with about half a dozen bands on specially constructed trailers pulled by farm tractors.

Then came the moment that all Antiguans seemed to be waiting for – the appearance of the one and only big band. There were eight trucks in the band, three of them with music blaring.

Singing to the crowds from one of the trucks was Claudette Peters, the Groovy soca monarch.

The band was well prepared for the event with food, drinks and washrooms for the masqueraders.

One Tourism Department official told us that “usually there are several big costume bands on the road on Carnival Tuesday.

“However with the late notice for the staging of this year’s carnival, many could not get materials to Antigua in time to put out their bands.”

Alicia Heinz, a “first-time mas’ player in Antigua” from London, England, said she hopes to be back.

Another visitors to Antigua for the carnival was Rickesha, a costume designer, also from London, England, who has played mas’ in the Notting Hill Carnival.

She too said she would be back in Antigua for the carnival.

Yes, Antigua mas’ is the kind of event to which you would want to return year after year.