Crocodylus niloticus, or the Nile crocodile, was the largest and most dangerous creature in all of ancient Egypt. They lived off of people and their livestock, and so the Egyptians had to enlist help from the gods or use magical spells to keep them from coming up shore, or so the story goes.
As far back as ancient Egypt humans have feared and worshipped crocodiles, and the ideology has spread throughout Africa.
A small village in Burkina Faso called Bazoule is a sanctuary for the great reptiles; there they can roam free without disturbance or the threat of being hunted. Residents of Bazoule, around 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of these animals.
“We got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that,” said villager Pierre Kabore, “Now we can always approach them and sit on them – and if you have the courage, you can lie on them too. There’s no problem, they are sacred crocodiles. They don’t do anything to anyone.”
According to local legend, the crocodiles and people began living harmoniously together during the 15th century when the population was experiencing an awful drought. People were dying of thirst and everyone was hopeless. However, with the aid of a crocodile, a woman was led to the banks of a hidden pond that the villagers could drink from.
“The villagers organised a party to celebrate and thank the reptiles,” Kabore said
Koom Lakre, a celebration commemorating the history, is still held every year. Villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.
There’s a belief among the village that these creatures are mythical beings, therefore they should be celebrated.
“Crocodiles are represented as the soul of our ancestors and if one of them dies, they are buried and even given a funeral as if they were human,” said Kabore. “When a misfortune is about to happen in the village, they cry out. Elders are charged with interpreting the cries, and then make wishes to ward off bad luck.”
Featured Image via Pixabay.