The Legend of the Kumaka Tree – and
The CARIBS of Guyana never lived on earth’s land, long, long long ago. They lived in a place way up in the sky. The only inhabitants of earth were the animals of the forests and the fish who swam free in the creeks, lakes, rivers and sea.
The Carib people who lived in the place of the Sky were not fierce and war- like, as they were later to become. So when they realized that the Earth below needed cleansing and cleaning, they all boarded a Big Cloud sailing by and requested to be taken down, down, down to the Earth below.
The Cloud obliged even though it was a Cloud given to being naughty and mischievous. On the sun-baked Earth, the Carib people soon experienced surprise, wonder and pleasure. For they saw beautiful unknown animals in that part of the Earth, known as Guyana – the jaguar, the peccary , the gentle, trusting deer; even the dreaded serpent, all living together as Nature intended them to live.
In the streams, lakes, rivers, it was more delight to see all types of fish splashing in the clear waters like little beautiful rainbows.
Well, the then peaceful, caring Caribs toiled for days to clean up that portion of the Earth called Guyana. Pleased with their task, they then journeyed to the spot where the Cloud had put them. They wished to return to their home in the sky. To their great surprise and fear, the wicked Cloud had left Earth and was sailing high above them intending to leave.
“Oh Cloud “, the Caribs wailed and pleaded “come take us up to our home”. In vain they cried. The Cloud refused and went up on his own merry way. On Earth the Caribs, after months, became hungry as a drought overtook the land. The Caribs even attempted to eat the sun-baked earth, but couldn’t. Most of the Caribs who survived became thin, fierce and less-friendly. Even the loving animals suffered from the Drought and the hunger, it brought.
One evening, Maipuri, an interesting animal – half-pig, half tapir, was shuffling along a river – bank he was weak with hunger, not even finding a root or a berry. Suddenly, however, a delicious smell of fresh fruit floated all over the air. Mmmm, where are these fruits? Where are these trees? Maipuri wondered. Oranges, pineapples, sapodillas, soursop, bananas, oranges —even cassava, plantains, peanuts, yams. He knew the various aromas from the past; the good times. But his pangs of hunger sharpened.
Along the river bank, through the forest on unknown paths Maipuri ran. Then, in a clearing, he beheld the highest, most mighty tree he ever saw. Green foliage, huge trunks, tall stately, higher than all others nearby. And oh, the food! Each branch bore a different fruit or vegetable. Maipuri knew the tree to be an old KUMAKA tree.
His hungry belly and eyes saw mangoes, yellow papayas, golden pineapples, green avocadoes, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, speckled bananas, bell yams, all types of cassava, sweet potatoes. This Kumaka surely was a Magic Tree of Food. Maipuri could not believe his eyes. But the tree was there. He therefore ate, stuffed all he could. HE ALSO DECIDED HE WOULD TELL NO OTHER ANIMAL OR HUMAN ABOUT THIS TREE. Maipuri was being selfish. Every evening he would take the secret trail to the Magic Tree. He would satisfy himself and return home, lest the others came looking.
Soon, of course Maipuri grew sleek and fat whilst all others remained thin and weak. The Council of Animals met and concluded that Maipuri had found lots of food somewhere. Woodpecker was chosen to keep watch on Maipuri and follow his every move, but Maipuri was too smart for the noisy woodpecker . RAT was then selected to track Maipuri. Rat did discover Maipuri’s secrets. Alas, rat also kept the tree a secret unto himself. He too become fat and sleek. And selfish.
In the end, it was inquisitive MONKEY who followed and exposed rat. All the animals gathered outside rat’s hole with monkey perched in the tree above. After a confrontation—and Tiger’s angry frightening roar — rat took all to the Tree of Life. Those who could climb, shook down the Juicy fruit and wonderful vegetables for many feasts. Man and animal were saved from starvation.
The Carib people decided to cut down the tall, massive tree so that they could plant pieces all over Guyana. This they did and that is how wonderful fruits and vegetables grow all over Guyana.
The huge mighty stump of that wonderful tree remained where it was touching the borders of three neighbours, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana. In time, the massive stump became a Mighty Mountain. Guyanese know it as Mount RORAIMA.