The place is called Dafara. It is an anomaly in the flat landscape that stretches for miles in all directions. It is as if the earth collapsed here, like God punched a hole in the ground and the darkness came flooding in. The local missionaries call it “The Rocks” because the hundred meter diameter hole in the earth is edged by sharp shale cliffs. There is a single trail that leads through the dense foliage to the bottom of the ravine that gently angles down into a scene that is both other worldly and frightening.
The first thing you notice is the stench. It is a dank putrid odor of blood, bile and rotting gore that permeates the entire valley, the odor of death. The second thing you notice is the blood. At first glance it looks as if the entire floor of the ravine is covered in dark thick blood. Every rock has been used to carve the animals brought down the path for sacrifice, and it is not only covered in the thick ink of life but indistinguishable pieces of flesh and bone lay scattered about as evidence of the hecatomb butchery that befalls the victims of the sacred god. A god that dwells in the dark recesses of the watery abyss that dominates the center of the chasm.
The murky pond is roughly kidney shaped and covers an area just slightly smaller than that of an Olympic sized pool. How deep it is, no one can know since the fertility god that abides here is no idol made out of wood or stone. No, the fertility god that demands the sacrifice of highly prized livestock is a living creature. An flesh eating aquatic creature of shocking proportions living in a small lake far from any other source of fresh flowing water.
The dark creature is rumored to have grown to such enormous size not only because of its taste for raw flesh but also because of the occult forces which it allegedly wields. The villagers of Koro and the surrounding area flock here so that their infertile women may bear healthy offspring. Famine has decimated the area population and the infant mortality rate is close to 10%.
The nationals struggle to eager out the most meager of existence. Yet they offer up what sometimes is their only source of protein in order to procure the healthy birth of a child. If they do not sacrifice they risk not only the loss of their children that are still in utero, but they flirt with the chance that they themselves might become sterile and hope for any offspring will be denied them forever. They live in darkness and fear, enslaved to the power of the behemoth beneath the water of Dafara.
It is a fear that also lives in legend. You cannot go in the water of Dafara. The god will eat you alive. Such was the fate of the first Western explorer who happened upon the site in the middle of the 19th Century. It is rumored that he scoffed at the natives superstitions and dove off the cliffs into the milky water of the pool.
He never surfaced.
Days later they found his bones along the shore.
I witnessed the creature at Dafara in the summer of 1986. I was on a missionary tour in the city of
What was that enormous creature in the ravines lake? Some supernatural being that offered fertility as a reward for being well fed? Or a local creature that for some reason had become trapped in this remote location and spawned a population that had grown to enormous size?
They are common in the areas of the
The only problem is that the African Catfish only grows to 1.5 meters. The ones pictures above are about 4 feet long, falling in line with the average length. What I saw was enormous. The fish in the picture above pale in comparison.
Could in the distant past a group of Heterobrachus bidorsalis have found its way to the ravine through a long dried up tributary of the
The Missionaries and locals have no idea. They just make sure to never go for a dip in the pond.
Till next time,