Caribbean folktales a big part of the culture


By Debbie Ali


Across the globe, in every culture there are varying traditions and beliefs, whether religious in nature or not.  The Caribbean islands are noted for their folklore, and as history would have it both grandparents and parents of this generation carry on the tradition of storytelling.  Whether or not these stories hold any truth to them remains unknown but it is important that these legendary creatures of old and their tales be handed down to our young people.  Why?  Simply because believing in the supernatural comprises a large part of our cultural belief systems; and of course makes for great bedtime stories.

One of the favourites is the ‘Buck’ in Trinidad or “Bacoo” in Guyana; a legendary small creature that is said to have originated in Guyana.  The story goes that if this elusive, dwarf like creature is captured and remains in captive, it is bound to its ‘owner’.  Stories are told of wealthy businessmen across the Caribbean being in possession of a ‘Buck’ and how they built their fortunes by supernatural favours granted by the creature.  Of course the ‘owner’ must commit to feeding it whatever it desires and keeping the animal/man satisfied in every way.  If this is not done then the ‘Buck’ would turn against its owner wreaking havoc on his life. In recent years the presence of a real life ‘Buck’ made headlines in Trinidad where a family possessing no substantial wealth claimed to be plagued by a roaming ‘Buck’.  Members of that household attempted to describe the creature and they all testified to its existence, causing a renewed spurt of belief in that village.

Then there is the renowned ‘lady of the night’ which was a beautiful, ghostly woman dressed in white.  She was often seen wandering along a particular stretch of highway in Trinidad late at night luring men into stopping to assist her.  One elderly man told of a ‘true story’ where he was returning home past midnight after a party and saw this lovely lady standing under a bridge. He stopped and asked if she needed a ride and she gladly sat in the back seat of his vehicle.  He claimed that she would take a ride anywhere he was heading and beyond that there was no conversation.  Upon nearing the location of his home he pulled to the side and when he turned around to speak to her, there was no one in the car.  Terrified, he sped home a few houses away and locked his bedroom door.  The gentleman said he could not settle down to sleep because he kept hearing sounds outside of his door even though he lived alone. He went on to say that the sounds suddenly stopped and a white mist entered his room through the keyhole as well as from above and below his bedroom door.  He said he then passed out.

Personally I’m not so sure that these tales are true, but a wise man once said that every story, every rumour and even every lie begins with some level of truth; and as Syd Field once said “fiction is the truth within the lie”.

At the very least enjoy story time with your children by passing down stories of our supernatural folklore. For more interesting stories please visit: