No Water No Life
The Zambezi River Legend
By Alison M. Jones
The charming African legend we quote below refers to Africa’s Zambezi River that flows 1677 miles (2700 km) from the point where northwestern Zambia borders Angola, Namibia and Botswana. It crashes down Victoria Falls, dividing Zimbabwe and Zambia, and runs through Mozambique – despite the Kariba and Cahora Bassa Dams. It is the largest African river to flow into the Indian Ocean.
While “Zambezi” is the local Tonga word for “Great River,” it is known by many as “The River of the Gods.” By others, it is called “The River of Life” in honor of “Nyami Nyami” the local river spirit who nurtures the river’s fish and irrigates their crops.
In a lovely book on this important African river,1we came across a legend that mystically merges the cycle of the sun setting and rising with the birth and passage of the Zambezi River. In our minds, the legend could apply to the course of any river..