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The legend of Grand‑Mère Kalle

 

 

The fertile lands of Reunion Island have given birth to countless myths

Of all the legends, Grand-Mère Kalle (granmer Kal in Creole) is one of the best known. Every child in Reunion Island knows the strange story of the witch who haunts the volcano. In the pure tradition of oral storytelling, several versions of this myth coexist.

Grand-Mère Kalle, a feared slave owner

Grand-Mère Kalle was an evil slave owner known for mistreating and despising her slaves. One day, one of them rebelled and planned to escape with their companions in misfortune. To make their escape, the slaves poisoned their torturer and fled into the cirque of Mafate where they lived happily ever after. The evil slave owner was then turned into large black bird and to this day the story goes that her particular cry warns families of imminent danger.

Grand-Mère Kalle, an ill-fated slave

This time, Grand-Mère Kalle appears in the form of Kalla, a devoted slave and protective mother. When her son disappears, the grief-stricken mother throws herself into the ocean’s deathly waves. Ever since, on Reunion Island, a bird warns the inhabitants of approaching danger with its particularly recognisable mournful cry.

The last legend about Grand-Mère Kalle takes place near Mahavel, in the south of the island. The story goes that Kalle sheltered convicts in her house to get them to commit crimes. Each time a traveller passes nearby, Grand-Mère Kalle asks them to come for a drink in her home. If the poor soul has any money on them, the convicts follow them to rob them and throw them in a ravine. When Kalle died, she started haunting the houses of sick people at night fall. If she laughs, death is near. If she starts to cry, the patient has a good chance of getting better!

Four way of recognising Grand-Mère Kalle

“Tout toout”, that is the frightening cry of Grand-Mère Kalle reincarnated as a black bird.

A bit like the Bogeyman, Grand-Mère Kalle does not like naughty children and will sneak in at night time to kidnap little monkeys!

Grand-Mère Kalle often appears as a witch too, with all the traditional attributes: broom, cape and black cat.

Piton de la Fournaise is where the witch is said to live with her husband the Devil.

Playing at Grand-Mère Kalle

Reunion children love playing games to scare each other! There is a game associated with the legend of Grand-Mère Kalle that has the same rules as tag. A child dresses up as Grand-Mère Kalle by putting a shawl on their head and has to try and catch the others.

By now you will realise that Grand-Mère Kalle can appear at any time on Reunion Island, so be careful not to cross her path !

The story is just beginning !

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