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Arthur France MBE hideme

J'ouvert morning hideme

J'ouvert is a large street party held during Carnival throughout many Caribbean cultures. Its origins coincide with the emancipation from slavery in the British West Indies in 1838 which provided Africans with the opportunity, to not only participate in Carnival, but to embrace it as an expression of their newfound freedom. 

Originating from the French patois for ‘day break’,  J’ouvert is also known as ‘pyjama  jamming’ and often people wear  pyjamas, nighties, onesies and fancy dress. 

J’ouvert Morning at the Leeds West Indian Carnival is a major feature of the event and takes place each year early on August Bank Holiday Monday. This is a mini procession and with soca music designed to be the perfect way to warm up for the main parade which happens later on in the day. 

Curriculum links:

History (Black History; Local Study),   Literacy, Visual Art, Dance 

History (Black History; Local Study), Geography, Visual Art, Literacy, Dance, Maths

Aim of resources:

The resources on this page give children an understanding of the significance of J’ouvert morning and what is involved in the celebration. 

Learning objectives:

  • Knowledge of when J’ouvert morning happens and what occurs. Local geography.
  • Understanding why it is a significant part of Carnival 
  • Skills –interview techniques, poster design, map reading, route planning, researching. 

Discussion ideas:

  • Freedom and Emancipation - What happened in 1838? How did this affect the lives of Enslaved Africans in the Caribbean? What does it mean to be free? Has the term freedom changed since 1838? What are the basics of freedom?

  • Discuss the translation of J’ouvert, meaning ‘day break’ or ‘dawning’. Discuss the double meaning. How could emancipation be seen as a new dawning?

  • R esearch J’ouvert celebrations in Trinidad. Discuss how they differ.  Where did the different traditions come from?  


Activity ideas (for 'Audio' clips please see links below):

  • Listen to the audio clip where Shackeen from Hillcrest Primary School tells us a little about J'ouvert morning. Make notes while the clip is playing and discuss. Imagine you are a journalist interviewing Shackeen. Write down a list of questions that you might ask him.

  • Make a poster or an advert promoting J'ouvert morning

  • Hold a j'ouvert morning in school. Come in your pyjamas and soca dance through school. Draw a map of your route around school.

  • The route for the 2017 J’ouvert morning parade is:
    Departing from the West Indian Centre on Laycock Place
    - right onto Savile Mount
    - left onto Chapeltown Road
    - right onto Harehills Avenue
    - right again along Spencer Place
    - right onto Louis Street
    - right again onto Savile Mount
    - return to the West Indian Centre.

    On a map of Chapeltown, Leeds mark out the route of the j'ouvert parade ( see 'Related Links' below for the map link). Using the scale, work out how far the route is.  You can also use the route map pictured above for reference.

    Search for the streets on Google Earth. Follow the route and describe what you see along the way. Look for landmarks.  The event runs from 6.30am to 8.30am - estimate at what time the parade will reach each landmark. 
Black and white photo of young girls dressed in costume for Leeds West Indian Carnival, August 1980
Leeds West Indian Carnival route map
Costume making for Leeds West Indian Carnival at Palace Youth Project in 1994