“Baccoo” may actually be derived from a Nigerian Yoruba entity called Abiku. The Abiku is the spirit of a baby that has died before being named. They are usually represented by small wooden statues in Yoruba homes as a form of appeasement to the spirit of the deceased.

The Guyanese baccoo may actually be derived from these statues. Guyanese baccoos are described as short men with large eyes, long arms and legs, and most conspicuously, an absence of kneecaps. A spirit of small stature that pelts stones at houses and moves objects within a house, the baccoo is supposed to live on bananas and milk.

Stories abound of the existence of baccoos in Georgetown and other areas in Guyana. The legend could have come from Suriname. The spirit is said to be trapped in a corked bottle, unless released. Baccoos are active mainly at night. It is said that a satisfied baccoo will answer the wishes of its owner. When a baccoo takes over, the person will act crazy and go insane, almost like obia or voodoo was performed.

Another legend says that the baccoo will do work for his master. In return, the master must feed the baccoo on bananas and milk. If the baccoo does not get his daily ration of bananas and milk, it is said that the baccoo will beat the master severely.

Old people from West Coast Demerara often speak of two famous baccoos, named ‘Boysie’ and ‘Boya.’ They lived in Stewartville, on the old road. As the stories go, if anyone would say anything bad about them, or about baccoos in general, they would get angry and make bad things happen to whoever had said bad things. They had once covered a man in faeces for saying bad things about them, and another story is that they had caused objects in a man’s house to start flying around.

Bacoos can be trapped inside glass bottles, but this is a very difficult task. First something to attract them must be put into the bottle. Then, after they have gone into the bottle, a cork must be jammed into the bottle to act as a stopper. Once this has been done, the baccoo cannot escape.

People usually throw these bottles in the ocean. Legend has it that if you find a corked bottle on the sea wall, you should never open it as it may contain a baccoo. If you open the bottle and there is a baccoo, then he will stay with you and you will be forced to feed him bananas and milk, or incur his wrath.

Adapted from R. Seegopaul (2008) , KNews

Image Credit: Harold Bascom





Drawing by Harold Bascom