Youma Diakite, model and actress of Malian origins who participated in various programs of our television such as dancing with the Stars, Rest Humble World Show e The Island of the Famous, tells OK Salute e Benessere about his phobia for snakes.
Youma Diakite: “I’m afraid of snakes even in dreams”
There aren’t many things I’m afraid of. However, towards snakes I feel irrational terror. Not only phobia, but also an opposing feeling that I could describe as attraction / repulsion. A fear common to many Africans who, with snakes, are often forced to live together. Yet, according to our culture, reptiles are not necessarily bad, quite the opposite. They may even have one positive valence, especially in dreams. Depending on the color, some of them are harbingers of good news, even can herald a pregnancy. But I happened to dream of a cobra, and I woke up in tears … I fear these reptiles both when alert and when I sleep!
The actress sought an explanation for her phobias
Trying to give an explanation to this terror that assails me, I tried to clarify digging into my past and, perhaps, I found the origin that triggered my phobia. Although she grew up in Europe from the age of seven (I used to live in Mali), I frequently returned to the village where my grandmother lived to meet family and friends who remained in Africa. My mother often told me that precisely in that village, when she was a child, one day, returning to the hut where she lived, she found a huge snake lying comfortably next to her brother still in diapers. Although nothing had happened to my uncle, the thought that reptiles were so “at home” that they could even sneak comfortably into the hut and get close to us had terrified me.
Youma Diakite: “In Africa I came across a boomslang”
It was on the occasion of one of our trips to the homeland that I had the worst close encounter with a snake. I was walking around the village, between the huts and the jungle, when I noticed something long and slimy that was moving on its stomach in a strange way. It took me a while to realize it was a boomslang, the very poisonous snake of the trees, because it camouflaged itself almost perfectly between the brushwood and the plants. I tried a a mixture of attraction (I wanted to get closer) and pure terror. The sensation of paralysis – I literally could not move even a muscle – was joined by an increasingly accentuated sweating, my heart was pounding and I felt like I was about to faint. In short, I was prey to a panic attack. When I recovered I started screaming with all the breath I had in my body. Some villagers came to my aid with long sticks to chase the boomslang, but it had already disappeared among the branches of the plants. That episode did nothing but accentuate the insane and irrational fear I feel towards snakes.
To exorcise her fear, the actress has a snake tattooed on her back
In Italy I happened to take the children to the zoo and they also wanted to visit the reptile house. I knew very well that, finding the various species of reptiles behind glass, I was in no danger, yet my legs were shaking … On another occasion, during a short vacation in the mountains of Piedmont, I then happened to come across a viper . Same paralysis reaction, same accentuated sweating, same risk of fainting. On that occasion, the guide who was with me made the snake escape, but if I had been alone I don’t know how it would have ended. I don’t know if this phobia will ever go away. Meanwhile, I began to exorcise fear in an unusual way: I got a nice snake tattooed on my back! I don’t think it will be enough, but it’s still a start.
Youma Diakite (testimony collected by Annalisa Costantino)