05 September 2009

Vampires in Guyana

In April of 2007, "A crowd of Guyanese villagers lynched an elderly woman," who "they accused of being an evil spirit who drinks the blood of human babies." She was beaten to death after authorities handed her over to villagers "who apparently believed she was an 'Old Higue' --the equivalent of a vampire in the local Obeah religion that blends folk magic with African rituals" (Guyana).

The "Old Higue are women, and...It is believed that Old Higue starts to roam at the time when people have settled in for the evening and thus the place is quiet" (Gibson 28). Some Guyanese "expressed surprise at the persistence of [the] belief in Higues, a creature said to take the shape of an old woman who can shrink herself to enter victims' homes through a keyhole" (Guyana).

"The word higue ['haig] derives from the English word hag, here meaning a 'witch'" (Le Page 97). The Old Higue most frequently sucks blood from the back of the neck of young boys and babies. "Dressing a child in blue nightclothes is said to be a means of repelling an Old Higue attack" (Gibson 28).

A Creole poem, transcribed by Martin Carter, explains some strange attributes of the Old Higue and reveals her critical weakness.
Old Higue in the kitchen
peel off her skin--
mammy took up old higue skin
and pound it in the mortar
with pepper and vinegar.
"Cool um water cool um
cool um water cool um."
Old Higue come back to the kitchen
"Cool um water cool um"
She grab the skin out of the mortar
"Cool um water cool um"
She danced meringue when the pepper
burn up her skin--
dance meringue when the pepper burn up her skin
"skin skin you na know me
skin skin you na know me"
she danced meringue when the pepper
burn up her skin. (Gray 27)

Shibuye ba,

Read also: Malaria & Antibiotics in Guyana

Gibson, Kean. Comfa religion and Creole language in a Caribbean community.
Gray, Cecil. Bite in 1.
"Guyana woman accused as vampire lynched." WorldWide Religious News. 30 April 2007.
Le Page, Robert Brock. Tabouret-Keller, Andree. Acts of identity: Creole-based approaches to language and ethnicity.

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure if this article is a sign of superstitious people, or just pure insanity!!!