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Burkina Faso

La mare aux poissons sacres

You cannot go empty-handed to la mare aux poissons sacrés, the pond of the mother of sacred fish. Two chickens will be enough to begin with. But she will absolutely have to bring her a woman. And none of us will have to wear anything red. Red is not a good color here.


Despite the long bumpy path and the oppressive heat, the faithful climb even barefoot on the rocks, to reach the bottom of this wound in the ground where a paradisiacal landscape awaits them. Mostly they are women who go to the sea to ensure fertility, an invaluable asset in these latitudes. The hens along the way are so tame that one doubts that they are still alive.

Protected by a forest of plants and decaying lianas, an immense carpet of white feathers opens up at the bottom of the crevasse, ending only where the green waters of a small pond begin. There is light only for about two hours, down here, and to get to the presence of the sacrificial fetish we have to cross the soft white expanse, naturally barefoot.

A man in slippers after a long prayer asks the sacred monsters to emerge from the emerald waters. Here they are, immediately. They are impressive. Scary torpedo fish and huge catfish open their jaws to swallow the delicious food that dozens and dozens of faithful offer them every day coming down here.

You can find the full version of this reportage on: OASIS – Environmental culture magazine – n. 195