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Folklore

Bacoo

A spirit of small stature that pelts stones at houses and moves objects within a house. He is rumored to live on banana and milk. Stories abound of the existence of bacoos in Georgetown and other areas in Guyana, but some believe they could have come from Surinam and are said to be trapped in a corked bottle unless released. Active mainly at night, it is said that a satisfied bacoo will answer the wishes of its owner. 'Baku' in many West African languages means 'little brother' or 'short man'. It also is related to the word the word 'bacucu' meaning 'banana'. In West Africa, the short races (such as the pygmies) were believed to have magical powers. This seemed to have been brought to Guyana, where the short races, or 'bakus', were still regarded as having magical powers.

 

Cumfa

A possession dance of West African origin characterized by the possession of spirits summoned by the drumming known among the Ndjukas of Surinam. In the 1930's in Charlestown, Georgetown, the Cumfa Dance as practiced there (La Penitence, Albouystown and Charlestown) was characterized by 4 main features - (1) the dancers danced barefoot on broken bottles scattered on the ground (2) they lighted a piece of wood and pushed the lighted fire into their mouths (3) plunging into the trench water under a high tension of elation (4) some of the spectators would often be possessed by spirits and stagger, like the mentally insane, and butt their heads on the ground. It is said that the Cumfa ceremony grew out a dance of praise to King O'Cumfa on the Congo River. The African ancestors of the slaves used to worship him for days and nights by the river.


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Updated: 9 June 2008


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