“According to local folklore, the Zambezi River was home to the NyamiNyami river deity widely depicted with the head of a tiger fish and the body of a snake which has become synonymous with the tale and imagery of Lake Kariba. Kariba, a colonial bastardisation of the term ‘kariva’, an expression given to a stone lying alongside the gorge, the rock beneath the rapids. It is here where it was believed NyamiNyami resided. In local dialect ‘kariva’ means trap because anyone or anything that ventured too close would be dragged down by NyamiNyami destined to spend eternity underwater. In times of hardship, it was believed the NyamiNyami would present itself to villagers and let them cut pieces of meat (nyama/nyami) from his back for them to eat. This work aims to challenge our collective (white) memory of Kariba and the dualities that still linger below the surface, much like its famed NyamiNyami river deity.” – Jono Terry, 2022
“The Zambezi Valley has long been a place of myth and folklore, home to magical creatures and a way of life that acknowledged and celebrated them. Chief of which was Nyami Nyami, the Zambezi River god. The creation of the Kariba dam wall in 1960 and subsequent flooding of the valley displaced approximately 57,000 people, and separated Nyami Nyami from his wife downstream. The resettled Tonga people sing of their wailing ancestors heard across the Zambezi Valley, wandering in a place unrecognisable to them, lost in a search for their living relatives.
When Cecil John Rhodes duped King Lobengula into signing the Rudd Concession – essentially handing over mining rights to the British South African Company – it paved the way for the colonisation of present day Zimbabwe. Of the many things promised to King Lobengula in exchange for signing the concession was a boat, which he never received. This work explores the colonial legacy of Lake Kariba, the dualities that continue to exist in this place and in broader contemporary Zimbabwean society.
There are two sides to the lake: Zimbabwe and Zambia, an imaginary line demarcates the lake in two, roughly following the course of the Zambezi River and there are two histories and two very different experiences of the lake – those of the white and those of the black population. ‘They Still Owe Him a Boat’ aims to challenge my own limited, white experience of a place I love. It is about a mythical place that exists for some but not for others.” – Jono Terry, 2022
Jono Terry (b. 1987, Zimbabwe) is a London based documentary photographer whose work is primarily focused on the post-colonial. His long-term photographic projects aim to both unpack and confront colonial history whilst offering insights into the continued legacy and ongoing impact it has on contemporary African society. Most recently he has been exploring the social history of Zimbabwe, the country of his birth, and the subsequent politics of belonging that remain since its independence in 1980. As a grandson of British immigrants to Rhodesia, he is interested in questioning his own belonging as a colonial legacy and navigating the complex landscape of white, Zimbabwean (African) identity. He is strongly motivated by creating a dialogue about the past in order to decolonize the present.
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