Published: 22nd of September, 2023Last updated: September 23, 2023 at 14:35 pm
On the 19th of September, 2023, we posted an article on our Facebook page entitled, “The Kanaima – Folklore or Reality?” We asked readers to share their thoughts. Some of our readers who lived in interior regions were happy to share their experiences with what they believe to have been the kanaima. Is the kanaima human who can shafeshift? Is the kanaima a spirit who takes the appearances of different creatures? Is the kanaima nothing more than a myth or scary bedtime story? These stories shared by different people from the interior regions of Guyana help us to piece together parts of the puzzle.
The story below was contributed by a young woman from Region 1, Guyana, South America who wishes to have her identity concealed. She believes that her father was killed by a kanaima. She gives us the peculiar details of how the “oimanay” tormented her family during the funeral, and much more.
This is her story….
I grew up with my grandparents. My mom and dad were rarely around because they were in the backdam working in the gold mines. However they would be out on weekends and holidays to spend time with us.
One day, my father went to the back dam/gold field one morning accompanied by one of our hunting dogs. He spent the whole day there and came back late in the afternoon. He took his clothes off, and put it where he usually does. He went to the river, had a bath, had dinner, and went to bed. The next morning, he got up early and told my grandmother that he was heading for the landing. A “landing” is a central point in a remote area where all the foodstuffs, the airstrip, and all those conveniences are located.
The villagers there said he greeted everyone as he would normally do. After all of that, he got back into his boat. After doing some shopping for the camp, he headed back to our village which is like one hour away. He never made it back home. My dad would usually drink before coming home but the villagers said he didn’t drink that day.
After not seeing him the next day, we started to get worried. A search operation went into operation and we soon found his boat floating in the river. About three days later, my father was found floating in the river. He was found in a stiff position with his head facing down. We would later have reason to believe that a kanaima lashed him across his head and he fell into the river and drowned.
The afternoon was lonely and tormented by the cries of my whole family. However, you may be wondering why I believe that he was killed by a kanaima. I’ll explain. When kanaimas had killed someone in the village, there would be something called oimanay. Well, in our language, that’s what we called it. The oimanay refer to a group of kanaimas which come to jeer relatives while they are mourning the victim. After a hard day, most people were asleep, but I was awake. I heard someone crying like my mom downstairs. That was a kanaima right under our house.
My skin grows as I am telling this story. We could not complain about the oimanay for fear of being killed also. We just had to stay quiet and listen to them jeer us. We had to shut up, and listen until they were finished. After a while, the kanaima that was crying under our house transformed into an anteater and ran away before our eyes. It headed towards the back dam. It came back later in the night crying like my grandmother.
I saw it there taking the form of a human this time. To the best of my knowledge, kanaimas are actually humans who gain supernatural powers through “beena” work. These people actually do this to gain power and prowess in hunting, and not necessarily for evil. So I am confused as to why they turn around and kill people.
After killing someone, the kanimas would usually return to the victim’s house to observe the their family, the wake, and the funeral processions. They would try to get a piece of the clothing that the person wore when they killed him or her. The kanaimas would also need to drink the blood of the deceased after killing him because they risk dying if they don’t get the blood.
After post mortem at the landing hospital, my dad’s body was taken to the church. That night was hell. We heard footsteps in the church and loud crying although there was no one there. The funeral was really messy because the kanaimas tore off some of my dad’s skin and part of his mouth when no one was around. He was also bleeding in the coffin as someone who was alive. These are all the evidences we had that he was killed by a kanaima or kanaimas.
The oimanays continued to jeer us, imitating the sounds of our mourning, for two whole weeks. It was really horrible.