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Kachikally: Sacred Site And Crocodile Pool

My Magazine 2022/09
22 min
Kachikally is one of the most known places in The Gambia, but mainly by the touristic aspect of it. Many people visit it because of the unique experience of touching the real-life crocodile. Alongside more than 200 crocodiles living in Kachikally, you can also do the forest walk and learn from the exhibits in the ethnographic museum. But amongst the locals, Kachikally is known for its healing powers of water. Some time ago, we got to talk with the Alkalo (village leader) and descendant of the Bojang family, who has been taking care of the place since the beginning. He explained how it all began and the three most important aspects of the site today.

Bojang family settled in the town of Bakau because they found it suitable due to the good land and closeness of the sea. Another reason was an abundance of palm trees which was very important for them as wine tappers. 

 

The meaning of Kachikally is a sacred chord. It has a significant historical value. The place had always had healing powers, but it happened approximately 1200 years ago when Chomping Bojang helped a woman save her baby from the pool. Since then, Kachikally has belonged to the Bojang family. The place has healing powers, especially for women seeking to bear children, illnesses that cannot be cured, and many other personal problems. 

What about the crocodiles? Chomping's sons one day found two crocodiles, which they brought home to their father. He told them to put them in the pool for protection. Since then, the Bojang family has been associated with crocodiles everywhere in The Gambia. They can also communicate with them, especially when cleaning and digging the pool when they inform them to keep away from the water so people can perform their work which is also a big ceremony.

Mr Bojang explains that the crocodile pool has three aspects to it. The first one is political since the pool is one of the most known Gambian tourist attractions and is being advertised by the government. The other one is the social part - they are helping and funding an association of barren women. Still, the most important for them is the spiritual aspect. Still, Kachikally is where many people, especially infertile women, come to seek help in healing. The site is significant for society. In times of political or other societal problems, many important people in leading positions come to Kachikally to seek help and blessing.

In the high season, from 12 to 13 employees take care of cleaning, tour guiding and accounting. Last year when there was a very peaceful time with no tourists due to the Covid 19, the team tried to take that opportunity and concentrate on research and documentation. They have been working on documenting many artefacts, preparing new brochures, and collecting new exhibits for the ethnographic museum.

Let us stop there for a moment - in the ethnographical museum, which is one of the biggest achievements of Mr Bojang. He was the one who came up with the idea since the place was empty, and building a museum would not harm the preservation of the sacred site or the forest. Even though the local authorities did not support his idea, he had the support of UNESCO. So, he started with one gallery and with more and more visitors, he managed to build 5 galleries, which offer information about the local life and history of the place. Mr Bojang has been gathering artefacts for more than seven years and is looking to expand their collection.

Museum and the nature trail in the forest added value to the place and brought some additional income. But the Bojang family has never advertised the site since it is not in their culture and conflicts with their spiritual beliefs. Still, the crocodile pool and the museum are among the most visited places in The Gambia.

Many people don't know or don’t believe in the spirituality of the place. Mr Bojang is not trying to convince them to think otherwise. As he says, there is much proof that this place has spiritual powers but respects people's opinions. So welcome to see it for yourself and create your own opinion.

You are welcome to watch the full interview with Mr Bojang from 2020.

Do you want to visit Kachikally? Contact us, and we will arrange everything for you!

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