Africa Dreaming

Un Bing N'Ghala - A Journey in search of the rainbow

I grew up in an Africa that was and is a mysterious place in so many ways. It is a haunted landscape as old as time itself and it teems with mystery and magic and fear and inexpressible desires of many kinds. It is a land of plenty where hunger still stalks, and a land of religious complexity that can hardly be compared with anywhere else.

In many ways this Africa of mine is a world apart. It is a place of dreams and meanings still relevant to the people who inhabit its dusty pathways and dim green forests. It retains the ancient truths about life and love and death and profound magic. This is the Africa into which I was born, quite unceremoniously, on a warm night in November 1968. It is an Africa that immediately surrounded me in its mystery and heat and infused me with its mingled sense of unease and tranquillity.


Banapas Woman
Banapas Woman

Buffon's Kob Antelope
Buffon's Kob Antelope

I was born near a great river, into the strong arms of a Balanta woman. The Gods of that river were always near me. They were to be seen in the mysterious sinking crocodiles, the strange blowing manatees at dusk and the wonderful array of birds, not least among them the largest heron in the world, aptly named “goliath”, and the chestnut and white fish eagles with their loud ringing cries.

In twenty-five years of living and travelling in West Africa I have had many opportunities to discuss these bizarre and dangerous creatures with the people who know them best, the old hunters, medicine men and herbalists of the continent. It is from them that I have pieced together a picture that emerges to form an often terrifying world. It is a world where sounds and smells have meaning and where a mere sight of some of the creatures can produce a terrible death.

Sometimes I myself have been led close to these creatures that science would label as pure myth. It is only when you are near an entity as terrifying and inexplicable as the Wanjilanko, N’foura or NyaKulo Ba that you can really understand the meaning of fear. These beings can trigger the deepest fear and apprehension. They are said to be able literally to “scare a hunter’s soul from his body.”

Sleeping Porcupines
Sleeping Porcupines

Hyena
Hyena

Lioness resting
Lioness resting

© Africa Dreaming 2004 - 2006
Home African Mysteries Terrible & Terrifying Creatures Gallery Contact