By: Kutubo Sanneh
Like any other cloudy morning, I went to my cattle herd after returning from the farm. The day now begins for the food search. I was a herdsman. It happens that, even though this was in the rainy season, drought was persisting. So, it is evident that drinking water for the cattle was scarce inland and on hilltops. But again, herders drink comfortably from the open stagnant rainwater like cattle. Quite weird.
Alternatively, there was ‘njama. This is a wetland and has water bodies subsequently from one to the other. Silenko’ in Mandinka. These silenkos’ connect to the main sofianyama Bolong and harbored wild crocodiles.
I remember one Niamina Dankunku man who lives on our Milk and ‘Chereh’ with the promise to chase the crocodiles. He never did. I just wasn’t a General then. Each day we had to give our cattle the dual benefits of eating and drinking to satisfaction; going to njama was always a problem for fear of these wild reptiles on our calves and even cows.
Usually, using crossing through these water bodies inhabited by crocodiles is enjoyable. I hold on to the tail of the last cattle to cross, which gives the best of feelings because it will swim faster like an automatic canoe endangering hungry Nuiminkas. On this particular day, of course, the herd and I cross the first stream, and by the time we approach the second one, the herd stops, and each cow, bull, and heavy calves begin to sniff from the ground and sound abnormal.
With my stick behind, as always. I knew they had smelled something and didn’t force them. But after a while, one of them was already around the stream attempting to cross. Unfortunately, the wild crocodile was already waiting, and I saw the cow wrestle into the water. That moment, I saw the survival of the fittest with my eyes, and it was that day that I witnessed the pain of death.
With so much suck, I couldn’t do more than throw in my stick to the crocodile and rush out for more stone. The pool of blood in the water was much sad. The rest of the herd then shout, putting their horns in the mud and misbehaving. That was a show of sorrow, I believe.
Back home in the evening, I was honest to tell Dad how it went. He had always warned us we shouldn’t go there. But with no water inland, I have had the point to defend myself. My brothers and friends who were at school heard of this, and they wanted me to call a press conference over this, literally. I wasn’t happy about such a loss. Like many other days of utter hardship and memoir, this is what I could remember about this incident. It’s a true story.