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What Really is the Kanaima?

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This article was first published on the 17th of August 2019 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: October 27, 2019 at 18:17 pm

During my travels throughout the Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana, I’ve heard stories of the Kanaima. In fact, I first read about this frightening creature in an online publication which claimed that the Kanaima is a spiritual being which comes to execute vengeance for some wrong committed. Apparently, the Kanaima is “invoked” by someone and sent to harm someone as an act of revenge for some wrong.

After reading this article about the Kanaima, I started asking questions and putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

What really is the Kanaima? Is it a human being with supernatural powers or is it a spiritual being which takes the form of humans. The stories are a bit contradictory.

One tour guide in the Rupununi, Mr. Howard Barnabas, who works with Eldorado Tours and Rupununi River Tours, shared his knowledge on the subject with me. He told me that the Kanaima is a spirit, but it takes the form of the person who invokes it, and therefore, the person who invokes it is also called the Kanaima.

But other Amerindians tell a different story: that the Kanaima is actually a human being who gains supernatural power through spiritual works and can actually transform into animals such as bats and jaguars.

Whether it is a human being or a spirit, the Kanaima is considered to be demonic in nature: an evil being which kills in the most horrific manner.

The story is told of a young boy who returned home after chasing cows and appeared to be sick. He died shortly after and it was discovered that his penis was cut off. It was said to have been the work of the Kanaima.

Another story has been told of ranchers hanging a man in the Rupununi Savannahs because they “knew” that he was a Kanaima who had murdered one of their relatives.

The Kanaima is thought to be able to travel far distances in a short time because of its ability to transform into different creatures. While the accounts of the Kanaima vary slightly, there is one thing that everyone I’ve interviewed agrees on: that it exists.

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Odette Mann
Odette Mann
2 years ago

I have never seen a kanaims and wouldn’t like to. But part of my growing up in the Rupununi have heard so much of its horrible acts.I know it’s a demonic thing. Very evil.

Frankee Valentino Ramlagan
Frankee Valentino Ramlagan
2 years ago

I’ve study the occult and the kaniama is just a folklore mythology story just to entertain, In reality it does not exist.