The Safari Guys
Nyaminyami - The Zambezi River God
The Safari Guys do overland expeditions throughout Southern Africa. The tours are done to order based on the itineraries on this website. Accommodation is a mixture of lodges, small hotels and camping. The Safari Guys do all the arrangements, bookings, catering and supply all the necessary vehicles and camping equipment.
Here is the story to be told about Nyaminyami, the river God. He has a body like a snake and a head like a fish and no one knows how big he is, for he never showed himself in full display. But he is very big! The people of Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe were protected by Nyaminyami, their ancestral spirit (Mudzimu), who fed them from his own meat in times of hunger.
The people pledged their allegiance to him by performing ceremonial dances. For many years Nyaminyami and his wife stayed safely at Kariba, the spot which was their home and near that spot, that's where it all began. One season when Nyaminyami's wife had gone down the mighty Kariba Gorge to other people of the Valley to answer their prayers and bless her people, the white man came to build a wall.
It took five long years to see it through because Nyaminyami did not want to be disturbed. He caused some floods and loss of life, but at last he was kind enough to let the wall to be all complete. It is also believed that the occasional earth tremor felt in the lake surroundings is caused by this spirit. It was the work of the Tonga elders and their medium spirits to persuade the Nyaminyami to allow the Zambezi to be tamed.
But Shame! Nyaminyami was separated from his wife. Great bodies of water are considered sacred, for water is essential for the life of the village in an often arid land.
Wherever there is water, the Africans find prosperity. The Nyaminyami is the ruler of water and his symbol is worn to ward of the forces of darkness and to attract wealth.
For kayakers, rafters and surfers, the metaphor extends to a wealth of perfect paddling, surf and the avoidance of injury from bad wipe-outs.
Each part of the Nyaminyami walking stick represents something....
The Tonga themselves have inhabited both banks of the Zambezi River in what was known as the Gwembe Trough (from Kariba Gorge upstream to Devil's Gorge) for centuries and in themselves have an interesting history. Prior to David Livingstone's work in the area around 1855/7 the Tonga were at the constant mercy of slaving parties and wild animals. Between then and the mid 1950's they lived in relative peace with very little outside influence - their contact with the "outside world" was limited to prospectors, hunters, surveyors and the local District Commissioners. In the mid 1950's life changed with the decision to proceed with the construction of the Kariba dam wall. Another chapter in the Tonga history was started.
Nyaminyami has supposedly been seen on occasion by locals - much like the Loch Ness Monster however, hard evidence is elusive. He is described by some as looking like a whirlwind - the majority say he's dragon-like with a snake's torso and a fish's head. The legend of Nyaminyami has several tales.
According to local folklore, during hard times, the Tonga had free access to his flesh and were thus sustained by removing strips of meat.
The story of the dam wall construction and the floods in 1957 and 1958 are well documented.
The local story goes as follows:
The Symbolism of the Walking Stick
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Legend of Nyaminyami - The Zambezi River God - and the symbolism of the
Nyaminyami Walking Stick brought to you by "The Safari Guys"