NYAMINYAMI

Open water

Lake Kariba: open water

There is an ancient tale, well known to many, of a mythical creature that once looked over the great Zambezi River and all those that resided dependently on its shores. The Tongan people of the Zambezi valley often speak of “the Protector”, a water-born, god-like creature, with the head of a fish and body of a snake, who they knew, or rather know as Nyaminyami. Showing himself at times of need and famine, it is said that the great Protector allowed the shore dwelling communities, of the Zambezi valley, to cut off chunks of meat from his body. It was only by the separation of the Nyaminyami from his wife, brought on by the building of the great Kariba Dam wall, that the desecrated serpent disappeared to the murky depths of the old river channel, supposedly, for the last time…

Then one night a traveler, named Gregor, lay face up on the deck of a house boat, which rocked ever so slightly on the shimmering surface of the great Lake Kariba. As he lay sleeping under the billions of bright stars, which seamlessly illuminated his surreal environment, he heard a faint buzzing noise just a few meters away. Drifting in and out of consciousness he ignored the sound to return to his tempting dream world, which was soon to be grossly challenged by the series of real events that were about to unfold. Just a few moments later, the traveler was pulled out of his deep sleep by the once buzzing, but now screaming, sound of what turned out to be line stripping off the reel of a fishing rod he had set up, and cast out, just hours before.

Peacefull sleep?

Peacefull sleep?

He rushed to his rod dazed and dreary, pulled the rod out of its holder, and with knuckles clenched white tried to hold on in absolute amazement. His eyes grew and grew as line peeled off his reel and his rod bent as if unbreakable. No longer dazed and no longer dreary he struck in defiance, lifting his rod tip sharply in orientation of the mystically large moon above. The moment he struck, his entire body was thrust forward by the force that opposed him, as if a creature of mythical stature were on the other end. As if… He held on for what felt like hours, and as he fought back against whatever was on the other end of his line, the world around him momentarily disappeared, only to return with the sound of hurried footsteps rushing towards him on deck. It was at that moment that the fishing line went slack, as the creature without warning, nor reason, now swam towards the boat. Once it was near enough, two strong arms, belonging to a newly made friend known as Mike “PissedAlways”, leaned over the side of the boat and hurled the beast from the water and onto the deck.

Head of fish; body of snake

Head of fish; body of snake

With its fish-like head and snake-like body the massive 34kg “Vundu” lay motionless, gasping for air, belly to the stars. Unable to raise the “fish”, with his now weak and wobbly arms, Gregor stood next to “PissedAlways” who, with difficulty, had raised the beast off the deck for him. Finally, with his imagination running rampant, the traveler, Gregor, and the creature, which stared eerily, back into his wide eyes, shared one last moment. Shortly after this, the serpent-like fish was gently submerged back into the glossy water and with one final grunt and shimmer of his smooth fleshy skin, the majestic beast was once again lost to the murky depths of great Kariba.

All photos supplied by Gregor Rohrig

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