The Kariba Legend
“The BaTonga People have lived in the zambezi valley for centuries in peaceful seclusion and with little contact with the outside world. They were simple folk who built their houses along the banks of the great river and believed that their gods looked after them supplying them with water and food.
The name Kariba comes from the word Kariva or karinga, meaning trap, which refers to a rock jutting out from the gorge where the dam wall was to be built. It was believed by the BaTonga to be the home of Nyaminyami, the river god, and they believed anyone who ventured near the rock was dragged down to spend eternity under the water.
Reluctantly they allowed themselves to be resettled higher up the bank, but they believed Nyaminyami would never allow the dam to be built and eventually, when the project failed, they would move back to their homes.
In 1957, when the dam was well on its way to completion, Nyaminyami struck. The worst floods ever known on the Zambezi washed away much of the partly built dam and the heavy equipment, killing many of the workers.
Some of those killed were white men whose bodies disappeared mysteriously, and after an extensive search failed to find them, Tonga elders were asked to assist as their tribesmen knew the river better than anyone. The elders explained Nyaminyami had caused the disaster and in order to appease his wrath a sacrifice should be made.
They weren’t taken seriously, but, in desperation, when relatives of the missing workers were due to arrive to claim the bodies of their loved ones, the search party agreed in the hope that the tribesmen would know where the bodies were likely to have been washed to.
A Black calf was slaughtered and floated on the river. The next morning the calf was gone and the workers’ bodies were in its place. The disappearance of the calf holds no mystery in the crocodile infested river, but the reappearance of the workers’ bodies three days after they had disappeared has never been satisfactorily explained.
After the disaster, flow patterns of the river were studied to ascertain whether there was a likelihood of another flood and it was agreed a flood of comparable intensity would only occur once every thousand years.
The very next rainy season, however, brought further floods even worse than the previous year. Nyaminyami had struck again, destroying the coffer dam, the access bridge and parts of the main wall.
The project survived and the great river was eventually controlled. In 1960 the generators were switched on and have been supplying electricity to Zimbabwe and Zambia ever since.
The BaTonga still live on the shores of Lake Kariba, and many still believe one day Nyaminyami will fulfill his promise and they will be able to return to their homes on the banks of the river. They believe Nyaminyami and his wife were separated by the wall across the river, and the frequent earth tremors felt in the area since the wall was built are caused by the spirit trying to reach his wife, and one day he will destroy the dam.
Martin Pieters Safaris and Nyaminyami
Having hunted the NyamiNyami ( Omay ) concession for the better part of the last 25 years, www.martinpieterssafaris.com I have learnt, erred and been taught how to hunt! From experience which has been gleamed from hunting several major concessions and conservancies in Zimbabwe, along with 10 years hunting the Chobe and Okavango in Botswana, I believe that the essence of a TRUE hunt comes in the form of the experience gained from hunting a wild, remote and natural concession, the Omay, or Nyaminyami is one such block.
Aching muscles, blistering heat and parched lips and are what make an African hunt, we shy away from fenced stocked ranches, we pride ourselves in offering a real safari, where the only guarantee we make is that you will hunt, you will make memories, you will learn and you will look back at your time in the Zambezi valley as one of ‘ the highlights’ of your hunting career. Quality camps situated on lake kariba and in the escarpment allow you to explore the entire 2 million acres we have to offer. Legendary professional hunters who have all cut their teeth in the jesse, first class equipment coupled with Zimbabwes’ amazing trackers and staff make Martin Pieters safaris your next choice for a quality affordable safari in Zimbabwe.
The Zambezi Valley offers the true big game hunter the chance to hunt up close and personal with Africa’s dangerous game, from elephant bulls to tuskless cows, from large herds of buffalo to solitary dagga boys, we offer combination safaris for lion, leopard, crocodile, hippo, sable and an array of plains game all found in one concession making it hunt of a lifetime.
Its not only a hunt……..its an adventure.