Mystical connection: The African village where crocodiles are welcome

People in Bazoule, around 30 kilometers from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of the razor-toothed creatures. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2018

Mystical connection: The African village where crocodiles are welcome

BAZOULE, Burkina Faso: Crocodiles may be one of the deadliest hunters in the animal kingdom, but in a small village in Burkina Faso it is not unusual to see someone sitting atop one of the fearsome reptiles.
People in Bazoule, around 30 kilometers from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of the razor-toothed creatures.
“We got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that,” said Pierre Kabore, just a few meters (yards) away from a crocodile feasting on chicken provided by the village.
“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 startling relationship with the predators dates back to at least the 15th century.
The village was in the grip of an agonizing drought until the crocodiles led women to a hidden pond where the population could slake their thirst.
“The villagers organized a party to celebrate and thank the reptiles,” Kabore said.
A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year during which villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.
Far from being considered a threat, the crocodiles are deemed to have a mystical connection with Bazoule.
“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.”
The unusual contact between man and croc has drawn disbelieving tourists to the village to see for themselves.
On their arrival, travelers can buy a chicken which is hung on a stick by a guide and used to entice the crocodiles out of the pond so that visitors can pose with the creatures.
“It was nice to watch from a distance but sitting on one was a bit freaky,” said Thomas Baspin, a young Frenchman who came to visit his grandparents in Burkina Faso.
“I’m glad I did it — but I’m also glad it’s over!” he quipped.
Tourism has become a big money-spinner for the impoverished villagers, but a three-year-old jihadist insurgency in Burkina Faso is taking its toll.
Ouagadougou has come under attack three times, most recently in March, when jihadists attacked the military headquarters and French embassy.
“We could have more than 10,000 visitors per year but at the moment, there’s no more than 4,000 or 5,000,” said Raphael Kabore, one of the guides.
Global warming is also believed to be having an impact. Rainfall levels are down each year, and the famous pond that is the crocodiles’ home is shrinking. When it disappears, will the reptiles once more guide their human friends to a new watery home?


Egyptian sculptor defends work after barrage of mockery

Updated 03 August 2020

Egyptian sculptor defends work after barrage of mockery

  • Users mocked the statue on social media saying it did not look pretty at all
  • The artist insisted that the piece is “a personal artistic experience”

CAIRO: Egyptians have mercilessly mocked an artwork labeled as “Egypt Rising” by sculptor Ahmed Abdel Naby after many on social media said it looked “distorted” and “ugly”.
The white marble statue appears to depict a woman seated, dressed in a traditional “jalabiya,” with a head cover and braided hair falling over her left shoulder. 
The artwork was shared on the artist’s official page with him proudly posing next to it. But images of what he said is an unfinished piece have been trending on Twitter and Facebook as many users thought the statue did not look pretty at all.  
“In the beginning, I thought this marble statue called ‘Egypt Rising’ is just a silly joke, but apparently … the scandal is real!” well-known Egyptian author Yousef Ziedan wrote on his Facebook page. 
A few others were keen to support the sculptor until he finished his work before they can make up their mind. 
The artist said the statue pictures were initially shared on his personal account for his friends to see, but he was surprised by the huge criticism it received.
He also apologized to his Facebook followers for what he described as an “influx of abusive comments” posted on his page over the statue’s photos. 
He insisted on saying that the piece is “a personal artistic experience” and that no official authority has tasked him to construct it, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.
Abdel Naby said his artwork depicts a woman who is trying to get out of a stone block that she is trapped in. 
He defended his work saying many people did not understand the complexity of sculpting marble as opposed to other materials.
It is not the first time Egyptian sculptors have been heavily criticized on social media after unveiling their statues. 
Most famous in recent years was a statue of Egyptian footballer and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah by sculptor Mai Abdallah, which was unveiled in 2018. The depiction of Salah with an enormous head and tiny limbs was heavily mocked by social media users.


In 2015, a huge bust of Queen Nefertiti was removed from public display in the Upper Egypt city of Samalout after locals compared it to Frankenstein.

A huge bust of Queen Nefertiti has been removed from the Upper Egypt of Samaloot after locals compared it to Frankenstein. (Image courtesy: Ahram Online)


In 2018, a bronze statue of Khedive Ismail Pasha, the 19th Century Ottoman ruler of Egypt and Sudan, had been clumsily painted a part of restoration work in black and white, making the once great Khedive appear more like a badly-drawn cartoon character.

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