The Njuzu of the Save River; Mermaid or Myth…you decide, I know what I believe..

The Njuzu of the Save River , as told by Nzanza Sekai in his recent excellent article on the Save River and Birchenough Bridge, called “Celebrating Rain and the flooding of the Save River”…


is a story long told by the Xangana elders and told by Clive himself many times over the years to awed guests and fellow travelers at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge…Clive calls the River Spirit an Njuzi……


The Save River is vast and flooding now, and this is the fabulous sight of the Chivalila falls just above Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge…


This is the view down towards the deep (bottomless?) pool at the base of the Falls, that the Xangana people call the Njuzu (NJUZI) Pool…


as you can see, any unfortunates who fall in there are unlikely to come out….

These are Nzanza Sekai’s words:

The pool of the mermaids or dziva renjuzu on Save River cannot be seen at all when the river is in flood as it is now. When I was growing up here in the village, my grandmother, Mbuya VaMandirowesa, said Save was a sacred river. It was managed and controlled by the ancestors.

These ancestors have their emissaries or messengers called njuzu or mermaids. Njuzu, according to Mbuya, are not black like us. No. They are European women who dwell in big dark pools within the river. This is how we are related to white people in the ancestral, spiritual world. Njuzu can possess a person and give him or her the knowledge of herbal medicines and the ability to tell the future. Such a person is known to have Shavi renjuzu.

There was a traditional healer, or n’anga in our village, called VaMasenda. Mbuya said his ability to heal and also to tell events that will happen in future came from experience gained when he lived under water with njuzu.

As a young man, Masenda was fishing on the banks of the river Save one day. Then he slipped and fell into dziva renjuzu. Those who saw him fall came home and said Masenda had drowned. The elders said that was not drowning at all. Masenda had been summoned to the land of the mermaids by the ancestors.

They should not cry and believe Masenda to be dead. Instead, the people should wait until a spirit medium tells them to brew beer, go to the dziva renjuzu, and play drums, asking Masenda to come back. When two or more seasons passed by, Masenda came back at dawn. Beer was brewed and a ceremony to celebrate his new extraordinary skill to heal and tell the future took place.

This photograph below is my own version of a Baby Njuzi, spotted at Chilo Gorge reception area a few years ago, on April Fool’s day, and may not fit the standard view, but the reeds growing out of his/her back are a strong component of many versions of how an Njuzu or Njuzi might look…

Baby Njuzi.jpg

About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in Africa, African child, african wildlife, amphibians, bio diversity, Changana people, Chilo Gorge, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, clive stockil, community conservation, conservation, conservation education, cultural beliefs, culture, eco-tourism, fishing, food culture, gonarezhou national park, great limpopo transfrontier conservation Area, Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, initiation rites, Lin Barrie Art, Machangana culture, reptiles, SAVE, Save River, Shangaana people, spoken tradition, theatre, tradition, travel, Uncategorized, wetlands, wilderness, zimbabwe and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Njuzu of the Save River; Mermaid or Myth…you decide, I know what I believe..

  1. Pingback: The Road Less Travelled is ours; River rescues and Boating on the mighty Save River …… | wineandwilddogs

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