Nyami Nyami Pendants

African Symbols in Gold and Silver

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Silver Nyaminyami pendants.

African myths of the local Tonga tribe of the Zambezi Valley says that Nyaminyami the River God who lived in Lake Kariba is believed to be a serpent-like creature. He is said to be about three metres wide, but nobody dares to guess at his length.
Nyami Nyami Legends has it that the water stains red when he swims past. Chief Sampakaruma saw him on two occasions many years ago, but the river god has been in hiding since the white men came to Southern Africa.

nyaminyami-pendant-medium-3dAccording to African mythology Nyaminyami lived under a large rock close to the the Kariba dam wall. No local Africans would go too near this place, those few who did were sucked down into the whirlpools and not seen again. They called the rock at this place Kariwa, the "trap" and so the name of the lake, Kariba. The shop at Kariba sells nyaminyami pendants.

The waters of lake Kariba covered the rock Kariwa and is under 30 metres of water, upsetting Nyaminyami. The tonga tribe also believe that Nyaminyami was married and that the building of Kariba Dam wall  seperated him from his wife, this  angered him greatly and the river god threatened the peace of the valley.


Nyaminyami pendant in Silver


Revenge of the Zimbabwe River God

Nyaminyami, the Zimbabwe water god, was not really something that many people believed in, but by 1958 peoples minds were changing. The locals working on the Kariba project were fearful and Nyamnyami, they thought, was to blame. Survey teams began work in the area  toward the end of 1940. On 15th Feb, a cyclone from the Indian Ocean moved up the valley. Never before had this happened in Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe. 45 cm's of rain, came down in the area.Silver Nyaminyami pendants are sold at Victoria falls now remember this dark time.

nyami-nyami-pendant-small-flatThe waters rose 7 metres in one night. Many villages were destroyed. The rescue teams arrived after three days, rotting animals were discovered hanging in trees. A team sent to survey the area had died in the mayhem.

Construction on the dam-wall started in 1955 – On Christmas Eve, a huge flood came down the gorge and washed away the coffer dam and newly built pontoon bridge. The flood waters rose and then dropped, rose and then dropped, causing delays and damage. This kind of flooding and rain was unprecedented and the locals began blaming the Zimbabwe river god. Nyami Nyami was in action.

Nyami nyami was blamed again in November 1956. The heavy rains came a month earlier than expected. Flash floods were causing all sorts of problems for the workers.

The Zambezi river, now heaving and full, rose over a metre in a single night. Nobody knew that 1300 km's away the Zambezi river was growing with flood waters.  The catchment area, of more than a million square kilometres, was now rushing towards the new dam. Nyami Nyami was gathering his forces.

nyami-nyami-charm-drop-earringsRain began falling over the whole region. The rainfall was feeding rivers and lakes all over the plains in Zambia and in the huge forests in Angola. The Sanyati River, a feeder river to the Zambezi  river,  added it's fury to the mix. The river rose nearly six metres in day and washed over the dam. Nyaminyami was in all the locals minds - the whites of course knew nothing.

1958, January, a huge flood that only happens once in every 10 000 years, rushed down, washing everything in it's wake. Sixteen million litres  of angry water per second hit the suspension bridge, The bridge stood no chance. Nyami Nyami - the Zimbabwe water God was once again blamed. A huge digging truck was flung like a children's toy. March came and the levels started to subside.

The north tower fell, the bridge twisted up out of the water, bent and damaged.

The wall was broken in three places and the Zambezi River washed away the wall. In December 1958 the Kariba dam was finished,  taking the lives of 80 men.

Today Nyaminyami is not very active - minor earth tremors are sometimes felt around Kariba - Tonga African mythology believes that this is Nyaminyami still trying to get to his wife ,but he is now separated from her by the dam wall. When he tries to pass nyaminyami turns angrily shaking the earth. Nyaminyami pendants in silver, gold and wood are available in some curio shops.


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