Located in the Western Province of Zimbabwe, near the southwestern boarder of Zambia, is Lake Kariba, a large man made reservoir which was formed between 1958 and 1963 after the completion of the Kariba Dam located at the lakes northeastern end. The lake is now 140 miles long and up to 20 miles in width; it covers an area of 2,150 square miles and has a maximum depth of 320 feet, with an average depth of 95 feet. Before Lake Kariba was filled, the existing vegetation surrounding the area was burned, creating a think layer of fertile soil on land that would become the lake bottom. As a result the ecology of the lake has become very vibrant, supporting a number of fish species, Nile crocodile, hippopotamuses, numerous water foul, the occasional herd of elephant, and is the reported home of a large serpent like creature.
The Tonga people, the BaTonga, who have lived in the region for centuries, know the beast well; it is called Nyaminyami and is to them, the god of the river. When the Tonga people were forced to relocate their age old villages to higher ground by the Kariba Dam Project in 1950, they summoned the help of Nyaminyami. They believed their river god would never allow the dam to be built and eventually, when the project failed, they would be free to move back to their homes. In 1957 Nyaminyami struck, causing the worst floods ever known to Zambezi, the flood washed away most of the partly build dam and killing several of the workers.
The Tonga tell how some of those killed where white men whose bodies disappeared mysteriously. Their Elders where approached by the foremen of the construction crew and asked to assist in locating the missing bodies after an extensive search failed. The Elders explained that Nyaminyami had caused the disaster and in order to appease his wrath a sacrifice would need to be made. The foremen agreed to the sacrifice as relatives of the missing workers were due to arrive any day to claim the bodies of their lost family members. A white calf was slaughtered and floated onto the river. The next morning, according to this Tonga legend, the calf was gone and the workers bodies were in its place.
The Tonga waited patiently for the next rainy season, they where sure that this time Nyaminyami would land its final blow to the dam project. The next rainy season brought further floods nearly as bad as the previous year, however the project survived and the river was eventually dammed. In the 1960s the generators were switched on and have been supplying electricity to Zimbabwe and Zambia ever since. Still living on the shores of Lake Kariba, the Tonga people continue believe that one day Nyaminyami will return to destroy the dam and they will finally be able to return to their homes.
A side story of the Tonga details their belief that Nyaminyami and his mate where separated by the dam and the frequent earthquakes and tremors felt in the area since the construction of the dam are caused by Nyaminyami in an attempt to crumble the wall and be reunited with his partner. It is a fact that seismic activity has increased since the construction of the dam, however researchers have concluded that the added mass of nearly 200 billon gallons of water has increased seismic activity in an already active region, including over 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 on the Richter scale.
There are some researchers who have suggested that, while many aspects of this story are based strictly in legend, its foundation may be rooted in truth. Fisherman have reportedly witnessed a large scaly, snake like creature with a head resembling that of a fish, others have reported sightings of gigantic, almost whale like, hump backed animals in the center of the lake. Other reports have included descriptions of a gigantic, freshwater porpoise dwelling in the depths of Lake Kariba.
Researchers who believe that the Legend of Nyaminyami is based on sightings of an actually creature have theorized that these animals may be an extremely large specimen of African catfish known as the Vudu, which is said to average 78 pounds. Another theory suggests that these animals may well be descendents of a snake like prehistoric predator known as the Basilosaurus, which lived from 40 to 37 million years ago and is described as having a streamlined body, averaging 45 to 70 feet in length.
Should the Nyaminyami legend prove to be based off sightings of a real creature, either of the above theories could prove to be correct, it is also conservable that the animal which dwells in Lake Kariba is a completely new species which remains unknown to science to this day. However, there are still those who remain convinced that the Nyaminyami is nothing more than a manifestation of the local tribes to explain unusual happenings in the river and lake.
There is currently no physical evidence to support the existence of an animal like Nyaminyami living in the waters of Lake Kariba.
No documented sightings of Nyaminyami could be located at this time.
The Stats (Where applicable)
Classification: Lake Monster
Location: Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, Africa
Environment: Man made lake