Monday, December 5, 2011

Return to the Creature of the Black Ravine

In the summer of 1986 I was a short term Missionary to Burkina Faso, West Africa. It was a wonderful experience, it gave me a chance to explore new cultures and literally minister to thousands of disenfranchised villagers.

And it was also one of my first encounters with high strangeness.

During my time in West Africa we would venture out into the wilderness and minister to small villages in the savanna. During off time we would be able to venture out and explore the wonders of West Africa.

A few times while in these isolated villages I was on guard duty and slept atop our Rover, armed with just a bush knife to dissuade robbers from stealing our vehicle. One night in a village that was nothing more than a few mud huts in the middle of nowhere I was sleeping atop our Rover when something came walking down the street. Of course there were no street lights, in fact there was no electricity. I was in complete darkness, with only the stars above for any light. But I heard movement and saw a dark shadow on all fours walking slowly down the street where our vehicle was parked. In size it could have been a Lion, except that part of Africa has not had a feline population for well over 150 years at the time. It came right up to our vehicle, and for a moment I thought whatever it was it would soon climb the top of the truck and attack. But it circled the Rover a few times and moved on down the street.  I never found out for sure what the thing in the dark was, but I knew that it was BIG.

On another occasion I encountered another intriguing cryptid that was worshiped as a  fertility god in a region called Dafara. I wrote of it previously in my article, "The Creature in the Black Ravine" and it has been featured in author Brad Steiger's book "Real Monsters". This creature lived in an isolated pool at the bottom of a lush chasm far from any other source of fresh water.

On the edge of this pond the locals sacrificed their livestock in order to appease the creature in the pond and  hopefully be granted a male child. Of course I thought it was a local myth, until they started to throw the sacrificial meat into the pool. For more info on what I encountered you can read the original article here online or check out Brad's book.

I was only able to take 2 photos of the Dafara pool, the villagers frowned upon photographing their sacrifices. The black and white photo above shows them in the middle of a sacrifice, and we were warned to put the cameras away. The color photo below was a quick picture I tried to take as they butchered an animal for the Dafara creature and made supplications to the fertility spirit.

Often strange and awesome things are found in the far reaches of the globe. I hope that after 25 years the creature I encountered in Dafara is still abiding deep in that primordial pool. It would be a shame indeed if the modern world has encroached in the West African savanna to snuff out another mystery of the wild.

Until next time,
Pastor Swope