she’s a different kind of species: half human, half fish.
they like to make each other’s hair when playing in the water, making themselves beautiful (to lure men).
she comes into the shore from deep water, where people are having a good time, find her prey. as she’s talking to him, she’s slowly carrying him out to the deep water, engaging him, enchanting him so he doesn’t realize how deep he’s gone. once he realizes how deep he’s gotten, it’s too late. he’s too far from shore, the distance is too great for swimming back. but she reassures him that he’ll be okay, and continues to enchant him. she brings him to his underwater home where she uses him (read: have sex with him), and he could be there for one day, or as long as a month. when she brings him back to shore, he can’t talk, he’s in shock from the experience. he’s unable to tell what happened and soon after, he dies.
only witch doctors from the coastal areas of mombasa can communicate with her. if a visitor comes from inland, he’s safe from her enchantments. if his ancestors come from the inland, he’ll be safe as long as he doesn’t get involved in the witchcraft.
sometimes the witch doctors get medicine from mermaids. medicines for bewitching, for lifting bewitchments, or killing the one who has bewitched you. if someone gets sick, these witch doctors are the first stop for treatment. even muslims use these medicines, except for when they’re fasting. but during Ramadan, in the night, when they break their fast, they can use these medicines.
my friend who lived in Mombasa for some years, the one who told me this story of mermaids, was very sincere when he said, “it works for them. it really works for them”.
there are many secrets of the mermaids, which can only be known by the witch doctors and the coastal people around Mombasa. even if you move there, you can’t penetrate easily into this lifestyle.
perhaps the Africans who were brought to the carribean way back in the day brought their stories of the mermaids, and the Europeans heard their story and adopted it, bringing it down throughout history, into what we now have as the fairytale of the mermaid. all the mermaids i’ve ever seen in any story or movie are white. i’ve never seen or heard of a black mermaid, so when Frederick first told me about mermaids in Mombasa, i was shocked, intrigued and had him tell me a second time so that i could get the story right.