Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Second Gambian Experience Part Four (Do The Monster Mash...The Kankurang)

Photo's from the top:-

Giving the Kankurang a wide berth.
This thing is scary...
'Stand And Deliver...'

The Kankurang is a creature of scary proportions.
It’s like a large human sized orang-utan made from strips of bark and carries two cutlasses which it clashes together at regular intervals or whenever the mood takes it.
Officially it is there to protect the children of the village, but the actuality is that like any other ‘mythical’ creature seen in the flesh, it scares the living crap out of you while…
What’s the right word ?
Extorting ?
Yeah, that’s the right one...
A few dalasi from all the local shopkeepers, tourists, nearby drivers-taxi and otherwise, cyclists, motorcyclists and anything and anybody else it can stop…
You name it and it’ll get you eventually.
I got caught twice, the first time for twenty five dalasi (about 62.5 pence) and the second time for 50 when I found I had no smaller change.

It has a couple of human accomplices who seem to help it out when it goes on the hunt, but it’s the kids that it is there for.
It is their ‘protection’ and if they need help from people intent on doing them harm of some description then they can call for the Kankurang.
It is a throwback to the ‘Old Weird Gambia’ to which I suppose this chapter is just a form of prologue ?
As for the kids, it scares them silly and they shriek with fear if it so much as takes a step in their direction before they all run like the wind to avoid it, hiding in whatever nearest available compound is to hand.
When it caught me the second time around I was literally stuck outside the gate to Haddy’s compound with Mariama, Ida, and another ten or twelve little urchins on the inside holding the gate shut to block it’s entry.
Thanks kids !
Where they’d run shrieking at the tops of their voices when it had moved in their direction.
(It doesn’t ask children for money, only adults)
I’m not sure what it would do if you refused it and to be quite honest I wouldn’t.
I’d felt the blade of one of it’s cutlasses when it shook me down for the twenty five…
Sharp ?
Those things could’ve cut a mosquito’s balls off while it was in flight so yes, I would say they are sharp.
So why the extortion ?
To pay for repairs to the ‘creature’s skin’ as it does seem to lose bits when it’s out and about and also to pay for some of that Chinese mint tea that the locals drink and to which I could definitely develop a taste for if I haven’t already ?
I suppose if you equate a glass of tea to a western can of beer then you get the general idea and I’m not sure I agree with that part of its idealogy, but as a creature of vengeance against any and all who would threaten or harm any of the village’s children then I’m all in favour of it and if the payment of a few dalasi gives peace of mind in all the locals eyes then what the hell ?

No comments: