Region of origin: Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
A fish-headed, snake-bodied river god of the Tonga people believed to live in the Kariba Gorge in the Zambezi valley, protected by whirlpools and functioning as a protector and a god of the underworld. In more modern times, Nyami Nyami’s presence was made known when outside contractors began construction of the Kariba dam in the late 1940s and 50s which required the relocation of the local Tonga. They acquiesced, believing Nyami Nyami would come to their aid and sure enough misfortune beset the project, construction stymied by years of previously-unseen levels of storms and flooding assailing the region. The dam was eventually completed in 1960, but greatly delayed and costing as many as eighty laborers their lives before it was done. It was believed the dam separated Nyami Nyami from his wife, and to this day, the relocated Tonga believe tremors in earth felt in the region are the great serpent trying to finally break the wall and reunite himself with his loved one.