Friday, 27 February 2009

Possibly another giant snake?

Lake Ngozi is about 15km southeast Mbeya city and lies in a mountain valley . The lake measures 2.5 km long and 1.6 km wide and is on the eastern section of the Mporoto Ridge Forest Reserve. Recognised as the second largest crater lake in Africa, it is considered a place of mystery and magic, by the people that live in the surrounding area, among them the Nyakyusa, the Safwa and the Kinga. The Nyakyusa say there are monsters and poisonous gases in the lake. The lake was said to have been formed by a magician named Lwembe (“razor”), who was chased out of his birth village of Ukwama in Makete district because people in his village were tired of his dirty tricks. He fled to Rungwe district, where he continued dabbling in magic and created a magic lake into which cows disappeared whenever they grazed nearby. The legend has it that people who went too near the lake also disappeared.After losing several cattle the Nyakyusa elders decided to do something about the lake.Then found a big rock, which they heated for three days over an intense fire and rolled it into the lake, casting a spell as they did it; thereupon they were free of its menace.

Another legend in the area is that the lake is home to a giant serpent-like monster who comes out only on sunny days. But the Safwa believe the lake has existed since time immemorial. Science however , shows that Lake Ngozi was formed after a volcanic eruption more than 40,000 years ago. Its waters have been undergoing changes in colour, depending on the prevailing atmospheric condition of the day.To help understand the formation of the lake, an international scientific team from Tanzania, France, Belgium and the UK have started exploring and coring the bottom sediment of Lake Ngozi . The team of scientists aims to document climate, volcanism, natural resources and human activities in the Rungwe province and Mbeya region.

Will they find the giant snake? Will be watching with interest.

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