Didi

The didi or kenaima is a proto-pygmy reported to inhabit the dense jungles of the Guianas. Described as being covered in short dark brown hair, with muscular bodies, long limbs and are slightly shorter than a human, typically 4.5 to 5 feet. They have a receding forehead, large brows and eyes, lobed ears and flared nostrils. Didis are said to travel in pairs, live in crude temporary huts made from palm leaves, and are very shy, but not necessarily rare. 


The Didi's first written mention was in 1596 by writer and explorer Walter Raleigh. Raleigh wrote of hearing legends of hairy dwarves from the Indigenous peoples of what is now Guyana. 


In 1769, Dr. Edward Bancroft, a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, moved to Guyana as a physician to aid slaves and indentured servants. Later Bancroft made a book called An Essay on the Natural History of Guiana in South America, where he described a species of five-foot-tall, dark-haired, bipedal ape.


In 1910 a resident magistrate of British Guyana, named Haines, claimed to have witnessed two didis covered in dark red hair wandering in the mountains near the Konowaruk/ Potato River delta. In 1918, an Indigenous guide named Meigam was travelling with three other people when they spotted two didis on the bank of the Berbice River. When they got closer, the didis fled, but they found footprints that were “more ape than human.”


In the summer of 1987, Mycologist Gary Samuels was working with the New York Botanical Garden to collect lignophagic microfungi in southern Guyana. As he was looking, he heard bipedal footsteps, which was unusual, as the only other people that should be in the area were in a camp across the other side of the riverbank. Assuming to see a poacher or tribesman, he saw, about 60 feet away, an ape-like creature covered in brown hair walking in a straight line, “as if it had a purpose”. Although he couldn't see its legs due to the foliage, he could see it was completely upright, swaying its arms like a human, although slightly more exaggerated. 

Didi illustration by Harry Trumbore