No sooner had I entered the limulunga, or park, when I came upon the dreaded Mkushi or Baboon.  I was en route to the Shiwa Ng’andu or Boiling Point, of the Zambezi, where the legendary river God Nyaminyami lives and had strayed unknowingly into Mkushi territory.  The male’s squinted, devilish stare was fixed, one might say rather angrily, on my good self, taking exception to my close, yet unintentional, proximity to its harem of pink bottomed wives and infant Mkushi.

The mighty Mosi-oa-Tunya, or Victoria Falls, was rumbling above me, much like my stomach only days before when I had encountered a particularly nasty undercooked kuku-bird, or chicken, at a local food stand, in fact Mosi’s legendary spray was also equivalent to what had I endured after that kuku-bird, but nevertheless I am getting off track.

Mosi-oa-Tunya, Zambia
Mosi-oa-Tunya, Zambia

Not wanting to cause a ruckus, I moved to the left of the ortobam, or path, in an attempt to pass the male and his harem peacefully, however it quickly became apparent he was not of the same mind when he also moved, to block my route.  I deduced that there might be some other female Mkushi in the bushes to my left, so instead I tried to pass him on the right.  He was not having any of that business either and as he moved to again block me, he let out an almighty chikuni, or growl and raised himself on his hind legs, showing off some rather ferocious pointed teeth, but a quite embarrassingly small nteme, or penis.

As if sensing my amused reaction to his miniature manhood he charged, arms outstretched, tail raised and barking ferociously, his harem and offspring squawking in support.  Employing my advantage in size I stepped forward and caught him with a right hook to the jaw which sat him flat on his bright pink bottom and for a brief moment stars and chirping birds could be seen circling above his head.  He shook his head, the birds disappeared and with his pride dented further he charged again, this time launching himself from a nearby lealui, or tree.  I sidestepped to my left, caught him by his tail and swung him around several times before releasing him and sending him sailing back into the same lealui, only this time headfirst into the trunk.  His motionless body slid down the trunk and the harem fell silent.

I supposed this the end of the quarrel and resumed my trek along the path to Shiwa Ng’andu.  Though as fate would have it I was premature in my considerations and from behind me came an ominous and resolute chikuni (growl) which echoed throughout the gorge, stirring many a bird from their slumber.  I turned to see the male shake the last chirping bird from above his head then take cover behind a nearby mansa or bush.  His harem and their offspring had retreated to the lealui (trees) and I sensed a major battle, a final showdown if you will, was imminent.

When the male rose from behind the mansa (bush), like that bad guy at the end of Die Hard who was supposed to be dead, he held in his hand a rock, which, if I not been such a keen sportsman as a young chap, I might have not been able to avoid.  Fortunately for me I had and was able to evade the object as it slammed into a nearby lealui (tree) and in the process proved itself not to be a rock at all, but in fact the faeces of my adversary! Having defeated him twice in hand to hand combat, the Mkushi had now decided to continue the battle on more familiar territory.

Having spent the previous evening dining on the local cuisine of rice, goat stew and nsima, a starchy, boiled maize meal, I felt well prepared for the ensuing confrontation.  Without hesitation I also retreated to a nearby mansa (bush), unbuttoned my trousers and prepared my own artillery, which I proceeded to compact and insert a few small pebbles into, for extra impact.  As the Mkushi rose again I quickly threw one of the missiles and struck a blow to his chest.  He let out an almighty bellow and returned fire, though with such haste that his missiles accuracy was equivalent to Steve Harmison’s opening ball in the Ashes series of 2006/07.

Seizing my opportunity I threw again and once more struck a blow to his upper body, this sent the harem into a frenzy of howling and cahoots and, as if sensing the demise of their patriarch, they too joined in the fracas and I soon came under a great hail of baboon faeces.  I returned fire with what I could produce and was able to knock two of the females from the lealui (trees), however the contents of my bowels were no match for a solwezi, or pack, of Mkushi and I knew I had to retreat.  After exhausting my ammunition I fled for the Zambezi, with the rabid solwezi (pack) of Mkushi in hot pursuit, swinging from lealui to lealui, with an uncanny ability to concurrently extract and then toss their excrement at me.

A female Mkushi in pursuit of me
A female Mkushi in pursuit of me

After a mad dash over shrubs, rocks and fallen branches the mighty Zambezi appeared before me and I dived, over what must have been close to four metres, into its swirling waters.  Taking shelter under the surface the splashes eventually subsided and I sensed all was calm.  When I emerged after several minutes the solwezi (pack) of Mkushi were sitting silently in the trees, no longer interested, or perhaps able, to fire at me, they instead seemed content and expectant, like an audience at a stage show.

I sensed the change in mood and considered that something could be awry, in fact, had I not sensed the change quicker, the consequences would have been calamitous.  I looked behind me to see a fearsome Hippopotamus with its mouth open swimming towards me, apparently fancying me as a lunchtime snack, undeterred by the floating balls of Mkushi faeces surrounding me.  I quickly dived under the water, punched the great beast in its belly before using its tail as a hoist and launching myself out of the water and onto its back.

Now as most people know Hippopotamuses always travel in solwezi (packs), so, using the others, I jumped from one to the next, all across their backs until I found myself directly under the Livingstone Bridge, just as a young thrill seeker was about to perform a bungee jump.  When the man eventually built up the nerve to jump he flew straight towards me, I grabbed onto his hands in the split second that we were level and we both flew back up towards the bridge where I was able to somersault away from him and land safely atop.

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The Livingstone Bridge, built in 1905 and the raging waters of the Zambezi below

After dusting myself off, I bought a copper bracelet from a street merchant and then took a taxi back to my hotel in Livingstone town.  At the hotel I met with several other travellers and over a shandy or two we exchanged travel stories, as it turned out they all had far more interesting days than I.

Safely atop the Livingstone Bridge, thanks to bungee jumping comrade
Safely atop the Livingstone Bridge, with assistance from my bungee jumping comrade
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