Tonga Tribe near Binga, Zimbabwe
Lake Kariba was made by damming the mighty Zambezi River and flooding the valley which was home to a people called the Tonga tribe. After the flooding they reluctantly resettled on higher ground. They were forced to move from where they’d lived and fished for centuries so that the power of the Zambezi could be harnessed for electricity and yet 50 years on and the Tonga people still go without electricity or running water.
As we entered this village, excited children ran out to greet us.
It is traditional for Tonga women to smoke from a water pipe.
We asked in mime if they would show us how it's done.
Their water pipes are made from the bulb of the calabash fruit which has a long stem, perfect for puffing. The bulb is filled with water.
The clay bowl of the pipe holds tobacco or dagga which is inhaled through maize or millet with hot coals on top of it, the smoke then passes through the calabash filled with water.
Under the old colonial Rhodesian government, the Tonga were the only tribe permitted to legally continue their dope smoking tradition.
Ready for your close-up?
This matriarch's lovely sense of humour required no language.
No wonder the Tonga people smoke, they've suffered throughout history. Before David Livingstone arrived on the scene around 1855/7 their living by the Zambezi river made them easy pickings for merciless Arab slave traders.
David Livingstone wrote in his journal "We passed a slave woman shot or stabbed through the body and lying on the path. Onlookers said an Arab who passed early that morning had done it in anger at losing the price he had given for her, because she was unable to walk any longer".
Prior to the Tonga people being displaced from their valley, they lived on the fertile banks of the Zambezi catching fish with long spears, growing crops and hunting wild game. They built their thatched mud huts on stilts so as not to become sneaky croc snacks and this attractive tradition has continued inland.
Another pedigree Bow Wow! We gave the Tonga women bags of maize flour and sugar when we left but really they wanted Bow Wow. He looked so healthy and muscular, they reckoned he'd be good for hunting. Bow Wow took one look at their scrawny hounds and jumped back in the Landy 'The only thing I'm hunting is tennis balls!"
The women cupped our hands as we said goodbye. Our next stop would be the Tonga tribe's most spiritual mecca, the Victoria Falls, where they saw in its magnificent rainbow the presence of God.