The NyamiNyami symbol is a mythical snake like creature that lives in the great Zambezi River in Southern Africa. Zambia and Zimbabwe share this poignant story about a River God that was separated from his family when the great Kariba dam was built. After the river was blocked Nyami Nyami was cut off from his family. What is interesting about this myth is that traditionally snakes are seen, by most African cultures, as an evil presence. Nyaminyami, however, is said to have allowed locals to cut from his own flesh in times of hunger, to feed the local peoples. This strange behavior from a snake like creature with a fish head, is at odds with most African beliefs. In most cultures, including western culture (think about the garden of Eden), the snake is blamed for most of the troubles that happen. It is a contradiction that black people would revere Nyaminyami - they are terrified of snakes.
In helping people Nyaminyami became known as "the protector" and was much loved and respected. He was said to bring good luck and fortune to those who believed in him.
When the Kariba gorge was blocked to build the Kariba dam, Nyaminyami was upstream and his wife was down steam. The wall cut them off from each other. From that day troubles started for the local people and for the builders of the Kariba dam. Floods, collapsed walls and broken bridges were the order of the day. This was blamed on Nyami Nyami. The dam wall took 5 years to complete.
It was only after Tonga elders managed to appease Nyami Nyami that the troubles stopped. This was the end.....Nyami Nyami was forever separated from his wife..... and was never seen again. The Tonga people of the Zambezi valley still pledge their allegiance and support for Nyami Nyami's spirit by performing ceremonial dances.
Nyami Nyami, the river god, - directly translated means "small meat, small meat" following the African tradition of saying things twice - as in Bafana, Bafana (South African Soccer team), Ama bokke bokke for the National Rugby team.
Nyaminyami the Zimbabwe water god is revered by people from Zambia and Zimbabwe. If you bungee jump at Victoria falls you will probably get a wooden Nyami Nyami pendant. You can also buy silver Nyaminyami pendants.
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