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Sep 13, 2016

Making the J’ouvert Mud for Carnival

J’ouvert has grown into one of the most popular events that precede the carnival road march to be held this Saturday in the City. Thousands will converge at the San Cas Plaza at the foot of the BelCan Bridge to join in the huge street party where the bramming will continue well into Saturday morning. Some will cover themselves with a special mud, others will choose chocolate and there are those who will rely on paint for the fete. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

In four days, the city will come alive with the annual Carnival Road March. But even before then, mas camps have been taking place among sixteen bands that will take part in this year’s bacchanal. One of the much anticipated events, however, is the J’ouvert that kicks off on the morning of the road march. Thousands of Belizeans come out and parade in the streets plastered with mud, chocolate and now water and paint.

 

Marsha Smith

Marsha Smith, Mud Maker

“We started back in 2002 freestyle. It wasn’t a competition and in 2003, the first competition, we came out as South Side masqueraders and we came in first. The evening of the 2003, before the J’ouvert, we didn’t know that when I brought out the J’ouvert…it was this lady Miss Sarah, I always thank her from the bottom of my heart because she gave me something that I love. I liked it and my family and everybody; I think the whole Belize love it now. I come up with my idea and I started to use the red clay that I use, but like I said, the crowd we started with was only ninety-six people and it was the Friday evening that we had the J’ouvert parade because I never know what J’ouvert was about. But gradually, years to come, you learn yo ask questions and internet and yo learn. So I learn about J’ouvert and it get bigger and better and I really appreciate.”

 

Marsha Smith is known locally as the mud lady and she makes the mud that is traditionally used in the J’ouvert.  But it is not just earth that is mixed with water and used, but clay that is cooked, purified, for over three days. And according to Smith, the process starts from mid-July.

 

Marsha Smith

“It is properly cooked, dah like something to eat; to me when I go out here and ker it on J’ouvert morning time, oh god it’s like people want kill yo for it. I think it looks like something to eat. Even when yo open the pot and look in it, hey it look like a chocolate or fudge or something nice.”

 

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about how you make it, without giving away your secret about making it.”

 

Marsha Smith

“Well everybody know yo have to go find yo firewood. I have my little old cart; I drag it through the street.  Mi neighbors them, nobody say nothing, but dehn put out dehn board fi me. They enjoy the noise early morning too. And I drag the cart through the street with mi lee rubber boots. I start mi fire, get mi pan, put mi mud and me boil and boil and boil till I think it ready.”

 

Duane Moody

“How long does it take actually?”

 

Marsha Smith

“Couple a days to boil; one pot take me like over three days sometimes because if yon oh really boil it right or noh boil it proper, you noh wah get the goodness out of it.”

 

After it is boiled, the mixture is strained through a sieve and then bottled into individual containers for distribution on morning of the J’ouvert. Recently, Smith has been experimenting with colors.

 

Marsha Smith

“The reason why I put the colors….we used to never do nothing about colors, but I decided 2013, something else weh I could do. I start get mi colors and I start to mix all colors and dah so…yeah.”

 

Duane Moody

“Just food coloring?”

 

Marsha Smith

“No. My own color.”

 

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about the different colors you decided to do this year?”

Marsha Smith

“This year we put red, we have blue…I will tell you, with the mud, the red clay is so strong, the clay stronger that the colors that we put. And sometimes when yo over put colors, when yo wash yo skin off, it left it white, so yo can’t over put the thing in the mud. We have blue, we have green, we have black. And when you mix the black with it, yo get black black. Yo could get the black, but the black wah turn grey or ih wah come all different colors. It come all different colors.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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