Africa’s version of the Loch Ness monster, the Nyami Nyami, is one of the Tonga people’s most important gods.
Living on the banks of the Zambezi River in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Tonga people (also known as the Batonga) believed this dragon-like creature protected them and provided for them in difficult times. Reported sightings of the monster in the Zambezi River (which runs through Zambia and Zimbabwe) are not unusual. But for the non-believers, the most convincing proof that the Nyami Nyami may be more than just a legend, was the mysterious disasters that occurred during the construction of Kariba dam wall...
The Legend of Nyami Nyami and Kariba dam
But a year later the Nyami Nyami decided to strike! By this time the construction of the dam wall was well underway. As the rainy season approached rain fell and fell and fell, until the Zambezi River flooded. This was in fact one of the worst floods in about 100 years! The water level raised by about 100 feet. The river rushed down the gorge and destroyed part of the wall, equipment and roads leading to the site. Around 86 workers were washed down the river and drowned.
However that was not the end of the Nyami Nyami’s wrath. Before construction on the dam resumed, flow patterns of the river were studied to determine if there was a likelihood of another flood. It was ascertained that such a flood would only occur once every thousand years. But when the rains returned the following year, the river flooded with even more intensity, raising water levels by 10 feet more than the last flood. At 4 million gallons a second waters passed over the dam destroying the access bridge, parts of the main wall and the coffer dam. City dwellers had mocked the stories of Nyami Nyami, the river god but by 1958 the laughter had turned to chilled apprehension.
Finally however the dam was finally built and opened in 1960. It is said that the Nyami Nyami withdrew from the world of men after this. However there are still rumors of its sighting...
In December 2012 a peculiar article was published in the Zimbabwe newspaper, the Sunday Mail. Residents of a town near Kariba had seen a monster in the water which was over 650 feet long! Reporters said the creature took 45 minutes to cross the harbor area where it was spotted, in broad daylight. The paper reported on Nyami Nyami's "reappearance" as if it were entirely credible. Although, some claim it was just a python.
Today Nyami Nyami pendants are sold all over Zambia and Zimbabwe and adrenalin-seeking, white-water rafters believe that wearing this pendant brings luck and safe passage through the rapids!
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