“The Zambezi River winding through the valley beneath the Kariba dam wall. I frequently imagine it would have looked something like this before its construction, untamed, as nature intended. The Tonga people, one of the relocated tribes who believed in the NyamiNyami river deity, widely depicted with the head of a tiger fish and the body of a snake, believe the construction of the Kariba dam wall forever separated him from his wife, Kitapo, downstream.” – 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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