River Mumma

  • There are many legends surrounding the beautiful sirens. Unlike other countries where mermaids haunt the seas, in Jamaica their preferred home is the river. The River Mumma has many names such as “Pond Mother ” , River Maiden and River Mistress.

  • The Rio Cobre, a river as old as our ancestors, lies deep in the valleys of the St Catherine countryside. This river has had its fair share of myths and duppy stories. One present story that encompasses Jamacian culture is the fabled creature River Mumma. It is said she still haunts the Flat Bridge and the Rio Cobre, living beneath one of the oldest bridges in Jamaica. Flat Bridge used to be the only connector between the north and south coasts of the island. The supposed home of River Mumma was crucial to Jamaica’s economic growth as a nation by serving as the connection point between assets and export.

  • It is said that trying to capture the River Mistress will either leave you gravely ill or dead. The fish in her fresh waters are her children and should not be caught as suffering will be a consequence for such an action and to catch her will cause the Rio Cobre to dry up. She resides in the waterways acting as protector of the water and the animals that live in it. It is also said that the River Mistress only shows her face when the river turns lizard-green. Some stories have her pulling fated cars overboard Flat Bridge, others have her rescuing these same passengers from imminent death.

  • She is sacred but yet feared in Jamaican folklore and is remembered in many books such as “The River Mumma Wants Out” by Lorna Goodison where she speaks of the responsibility that no one wants to take care of the things that matter most such as the environment. In the past people, would go to the river bank to sing , dance myal and bring food for the River Mumma​.

  • Legend has it that on moonlit nights, one may be lucky to catch sight of her as she sits on a boulder and combs her hair with a golden comb. In other areas of the island, it is said that for one night every year, the mermaid leaves her underwater home to visit the surface. If frightened while combing her hair, she would dive into the water leaving her comb behind. It is believed that anyone who finds it will become rich. Wanting the comb to be returned, the mermaid would approach the finder in a dream and direct them to treasure underwater. This treasure, according to folklore, is said to be gold that was  left by pirates who had forgotten the hiding place.

 

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