Kachikally Museum

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The Kachikally Museum in Bakau

I was able to get some great pictures of most of the museum's exhibits, but I really messed up by running out of batteries before getting to the crocodiles. The crocodile pool is famous for many reasons, but especially because the crocs are so docile that visitors are encouraged to pet one (with supervision of course). But they also just lay around the area and you walk right through them. Please visit the museum's website to see the crocodiles (and yes, I really did pet one!). Kachikally Museum and Crocodile Pool website.

This is a Jola masquerade costome called the Kumpo. It's worn mostly during initiation ceremonies, to protect the initiates from evil eyes and spirits. It represents the spirits of the ancestors. The Kumpo is dressed from leaves of elephant grass or palm fibre.

This is a Fula Maiden. This costume is made from local hand woven cotton cloth dyed dark blue. It is worn by married women only.

This aparatus is used for Palm Wine Tapping. The worker will use this to climb up to the top of the palm tree and attach bottles that will collect the liquid that is turned into Palm Wine.

These are some of the other masquerade costumes used in celebrations. The one on the right is the Ejumba, a horned initiation helmet mask. We saw several of these costumes worn during the Christmas and New Years holiday celebrations. You'll see some pictures of those later.

This is a Mandinka Virgin Bride used for initiation, marriage, and fertility celebrations. The caption reads: In the Gambia, marriage and childbearing are regarded as assurances against death. While everyone does die, one’s life is seen as being preserved, perpetuated and propagated through marriage and bearing children. Since marriage is view to be at the very core of human existence, it is expected that before a marriage can be contracted, initiation ceremonies for both women and men must take place. Initiations are profound religious activities where young people accept that they have reached the age where they can bear children and their community gives approval to that stage.

These are Mandinka drums used in their most popular rhythm and dance, the Seuruba. The rhythm is fast and feverish and includes hand clapping, foot stomping, and undulating. Seuruba is a ceremonial rhythm used at weddings, christenings, and other celebrations. The dance is energetic and involves jumping and swinging of the hips. It is done mainly by the women. We saw this done live. 

This is a live shot of a costume similar to the Kumpo. He was dancing around while drummers played and the people were singing and clapping. All this was part of New Years celebrations that went on for days.

This type of cloth weaver is still in use today in many parts of the country.

This is a picture of a man actually going up into the tree. You can see the bottles hanging from the top. They still make the wine this way, Pierre showed me trees that had the bottles attached to the top.

I didn't get what type of costume this is, but I'll look it up and add it later.

I was so busy getting my picture taken, I didn't get the name of these drums. I'll find out and add it here later.

Whenever there is a musical gathering in The Gambia, drumming is a major component. The number of drums being played depends on the ethnic group. The Mandinka use three drums, whereas Wollof and Jola use four drums. Drummers are skilled in bringing out different melodies. They beat the drums feverishly and with much gusto. Clapping and singing accompany drumming. Most drums, like the tabala, also have spiritual significance.