I hesitate to say that this post is about a 'folklore character' because it seemed more like a local legend to me. More of a story steeped in historic events, told throughout generations and is now known by many in the Caribbean. So here is the legend of Gang Gang Sarah.
Gang Gang Sarah, otherwise known as The Witch of Golden Lane, is said to have been an African witch who flew or was blown off course to the Island of Tobago. There are two ways in which I've heard the story play out:
Version 1 -
The African witch, named Sarah, was blown off course and landed in the village of Les Coteaux. She decided to stay a while and made her way to Golden Lane where it is believed she had eaten salt, which eliminated her magical abilities. As a result, she was unable to fly back home so she ended up staying on the island and married a man named Tom. They both lived to a great age and Sarah was remembered by the villagers for her kindness.
Sarah flew to Tobago in order to take spiritual care of her people who were taken from Africa to work as slaves on the island. After Emancipation, when all the slaves were freed, she climbed to the top of a huge Silk Cotton tree to launch and fly back to her homeland. On her attempt to take flight, she was unable to use her magical abilities of flight and necromancy, thus she fell to her death. Sarah had unknowingly consumed salt while on the island, causing her to lose her powers.
Sometimes, the story of Gang Gang Sarah is told using a mixture of these two versions, however it's the origin of the tale that gives it such significance.
There existed a kindly slave owner, known as Grandfather Peter, who had favoured two slaves on his plantation in Golden lane. They were a couple, a man and a women named Tom and Sarah. Sarah was considered to possess powers of witchcraft which made her a very influential person in the plantation society. The legend dictates that Sarah attempted to fly back to Africa, after Tom had died. Presumably, she climbed to the top of the biggest Silk Cotton tree at the plantation to launch off but ended up falling to her death. It is believed that eating food which contains salt, a violation in the dictum of witchcraft, is what costed Sarah her life.
She was buried next to her husband, Tom, where her grave can still visited by the public up to present day. Sarah's last resting place is considered a location of reverence where people leave offerings, allegedly as a part of obeah practices.
The Silk Cotton tree that Sarah fell from still exist to date and is believed to be the biggest of its kind on the island.
Additionally, during my research, I came across the name Alvin James. A man who is supposedly the descendant of Sarah. He was interviewed and stated that his grandparents told him that Sarah had supernatural powers. He also said that she was the village's midwife, which gave her the title Gang Gang.
Whether or not you believe in this legend, a few things remain fact. There was a woman named Sarah who lived and worked the Plantation of a man named Peter, she was married to a man named Tom, she died and was buried next to her husband. Everything else, well, that's up to whatever you want to believe.