Of Nyami Nyami: A Zambezi River God

victoria falls

Bound not only by history and the majestic Victoria Falls; Zimbabwe and Zambia share the Zambezi river as a border between them including the common legend of a River God fabled to patron it, the Nyami Nyami.

nyami nyami

The Nyami Nyami  is a River God said to look something like a cross between a snake and a fish with varying accounts as to its actual size and appearance, I am surprised that no one has added being a shape-shifter to its list of abilities.

clip art nyami nyami

As legend would have it told, the Nyami Nyami lived under a large boulder that jutted out from the Kariwa gorge where the present day Kariba Dam wall was built, and any mortal foolish enough to venture close to there got trapped and dragged under water never to be seen again. This is how Kariba Dam got its name from the word Kariwa/Kariva which means trap. The Dam construction project might also have been explained to the locals as being a “Water Trap” to hold water from the river.

The Tonga people used to live a simple life sheltered from the outside world on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. In drought times the Nyaminyami would let the people cut off pieces of itself to eat, and no matter how much they cut, would never get finished. The name Nyaminyami could be from the Tonga phrase meaning pieces of meat: nyama yamaninganinga.

Then civilisation invaded in the 1940s. Shattering their simple lifestyle, as they were relocated from areas that would flood upon the building of the Kariba Dam and its Hydroelectric Power Station to supply electricity to Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Tonga folk let themselves be relocated but they held the belief that the Nyaminyami would never let the dam project be completed.

building kariba dam

Almost true to the Tonga’s expectations the Kariba dam project was plagued with unparalleled flooding of the sort that is supposed to be witnessed only once in a thousand years, but yet happened consecutively for three years

Eventually they would turn to the Tonga tribal elders and spirit mediums to intercede on their behalf…..

lake-kariba-dam-pic

The dam was completed in 1958 and started generating hydroelectric power in 1960.

Kariba Dam Opening

Sir Duncan, Queen Elizabeth at the official opening of the Kariba Dam on Tuesday 17th May 1960

its still generating power for Zambia and Zimbabwe today.

kariba electricity

The End?

 No, not quite. See when they completed the dam wall, they separated the Nyami Nyami from his mate. The earth tremors that are frequent in the area are a result of the River God trying to break down the dam wall and reunite with his mate. The Tonga people believe that one  day Nyaminyami will break down the wall and they will return to their ancestral homes on the banks of the Zambezi River.

Update: Someone shared an interesting theory with me that: IF the Nyaminyami is there we might be mistaken about its appearance (well, personally I think it shapeshifts) See, the dam was built by an Italian consortium Impresit and its highly likely they drove their Italian made Alfa Romeo vehicles. Take a look at the logo of the Alfa Romeo vehicle and tell me it does not remind you of some legend?:

alfa romeo logo

What do I think? I think that deep in the murky waters of the Zambezi there is some creature there, something,ancient, uncommon and unknown. I heard an interesting story about how separating the Nyaminyami from its mate was actually a calculated move, they did not want these creatures breeding, dealing with only two is trouble enough……

The Nyami Nyami River God myth or real, what do you think?

 

~B

Day 14 of my blog everyday challenge Africa: Stories from home

Photocredit www.victoriafalls-guide.net

Advertisements

Of A Book Review: Children Of Blood And Bone

My go to book genre is Epic High Fantasy. Why? Because it’s an escape and I love how it addresses “issues” without actually calling a spade a spade… In the way folklore stories teach you about humanity whilst telling you of talking animals……

Just as I got to the end of my last fantasy book series The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson:

I happened to ask suggestions on what to read next and Mable suggested Children of Blood and Bone. Coincidentally a friend who was also reading the Stormlight Archive was going to read that book next…..

If you know me by now you’ll know when the universe seems like its sending me a signal I go where it leads….

Right now the universe is telling you if you haven’t read Tomi Adeyemi’s book what are you waiting for?

My favourite thing about Children of Blood and Bone is that, well, it’s fantasy but not only that, it’s set in Africa, with African characters based upon the author’s own Nigerian roots and Yoruba lore.

On the surface, Children of Blood and Bone is the story about a quest to bring back magic to the mythical kingdom of Orïsha.

“One day magic breathed. The next, it died”

The Divîners who have distinct white hair are left without their magic, powerless to defend themselves from a King determined to eradicate the whole lot of them…….

If I was asked to name the story I would have called it: The Prince, The Princess and The Reaper. The plot unfolds through three different character viewpoints whose perspectives you get to be intimately familiar with and come to understand their actions…..

Children of Blood and Bone is a story of survival in an oppressive system, when the difference between upholding the rule of law and tyranny is simply the uniform your enforcers wear, when the colour of your hair changes whether people fear you or hate you and how all that fear and hatred turns to violence.

This book is about way more than what it is about, as you journey 500+ pages across the land of Orïsha with Zélie

Children of Blood and bone is a story of hope and perseverance.

They killed my mother.

They took our magic.

They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

From the author’s note

Although riding giant lionaires and performing sacred rituals might be in the realm of fantasy, all the pain, fear, sorrow, and loss in this book is real.

“Abogbo wa ni ọmọ rẹ nínú j àti egungun.”
“We are all children of blood and bone.”

~B
PS Children of Blood and Bone, is the first book of three in the Legacy of Orïsha Series by Tomi Adeyemi, when you get to the end you start looking up the author to see how soon the next book is out because……. I went out of my way to not include spoilers in this review 😂

Also there’s a movie coming along!!!!!!!