The Snake King of Kalinago
Published by Papillote Press
This delightful children’s book – the first to be written by local children in Dominica – tells the story of the myth of the Kalinago snake called Bakwa. Like all myths it has changed down the centuries and this version is an adaptation by a primary school class who, from their own knowledge and their own imaginations, came up with this lively tale.
The Kalinago people from Dominica in the eastern Caribbean were the island’s first inhabitants. After the Europeans arrived they gradually lost their land. Now they live on part of the island known as the Kalinago Territory where you will see a rocky “staircase” coming out of the sea. It is called L’Escalier Tete Chien and means “the staircase of the snake” in the Dominican Creole language. This is where, according to the myth, Bakwa came out of the sea, slithered on to the land – the rocks are the marks his belly left – and went up to his cave. He will stay there sleeping until the world is at peace again.
Pupils from Year 6 (the top year of primary level) of Atkinson School, Dominica, wrote the words for The Snake King of the Kalinago. The illustrations were produced in the early 1990s in a workshop by a Kalinago Territory youth group.