Crocodiles play an important role in the villages of Dogon country that have surface water, including Borko.

 

Crocodiles in Dogon County

A village visitor touches a crocodile

As the story goes, an ancestor of Kassambara was traveling through Mali and found himself with only a gourd of water that would not last for more than two days. He was very worried. Then, he saw a crocodile, and said to himself, “Where there is a crocodile, water cannot be too far.”

 

So, he followed the crocodile day and night. On the evening of the second day, the crocodile led him to the foot of a mountain with 33 sources of water. This spot became the village of Borko.

 

As a reward to the crocodile for leading him to water, he decided that every Kassambara will henceforth consider crocodiles as a totem. To this day, crocodiles are protected in Borko against hunters and they are fed dead animals, offal from the market and meat ration provided by visitors. They are also properly buried upon death. Regarding this gentle agreement, crocodiles are peacefully living with villagers.

This is part four of a four-part blog series on the Dogon People of Mali, West Africa.
Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3