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Trinidad Folklore on DVD

By Anne Hilton Tuesday, April 3 2007

Who needs Hollywood’s Headless Horseman, witches, and wizards when we have our own, real live vampires? When those who walk the bush or catch crabs in the swamps lay hand on heart to say they have seen Papa Bois …

“Trinidad and Tobago’s Folklore”, a documentary film on DVD, gives chapter and verse on figures of local folklore and present-day encounters with the supernatural. The film begins with UWI historian Dr Bridget Brereton giving a brief history of Trinidad and Tobago, mentioning the many cultures that came together to form this body of folklore – the Amerindian, Spanish, French, African, and after 1796, English (the last, anachronistically with an illustration of a gentleman in Elizabethan dress, complete with ruff).

The French gave names to many of the supernatural beings in our folklore, for example Papa Bois and Mama D’Glo/Dl’Eau; the Africans called stilt walkers by the name they were (and are) known in West Africa – ‘Moko Jumbie’. Professor Gordon Rohlehr compares Papa Bois to the Greek god Pan, while Jerry Besson, on the other hand, compares him to Big Foot and has met people who claim to have seen Papa Bois in the bush. Dr Kumar Mahabir, medical anthropologist tells of hunters who insist they have seen him, that they were not drunk or tired but in full possession of their senses at the time they saw a huge, hairy creature in the bush. Denton Lorenco relates his own experience of an encounter with Papa Bois when he was checking his crab traps. Professors Brereton and Rohlehr, historians Jerry Besson and Michael Anthony, Dr Kumar Mahabir, Denton Lorenco, poet and lecturer Anson Gonzalez – among other contributors – tell of TT figures of folklore. Papa Bois is the first character featured on this disc, followed by The Duenne, La Diablesse, The Soucouyant, The Phantom, The Lagahoo, The Buck, The Mermaids and, finally The Fairymaids.

“Trinidad and Tobago’s” Folklore is narrated by Mark Ewing, with illustrations by Eleanore Pollard and Paria Publishing and suitably eerie music composed by Anil Hardit-Singh.

You’ll find this treasure trove of local folklore at Nigel Khan, bookseller outlets in Trinidad and Tobago.

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