12 – Tanganyikan snake stories

African Python - kongwa2london.com

In a letter to one of my mother’s sisters, she complained that there were King Cobras and Black Mambas in the garden, especially when the grass was long. Then as an afterthought, she fetched me in.

One of our servants walked into the shamba (garden) only to find me wrapped in the coils of a python. Quick action by him and the use of a panga (like a machete) saved my life. This toddler was not on the python’s menu that day.

On another occasion that very same action saved my sister Toni’s life when she was playing amongst the bamboo Black Mamba - kongwa2london.complants on the edge of our garden in Dar es Salaam. She had come face-to-face with a Black Mamba, when again a servant came to the rescue.

My sister sees a sea snake in the shallows (try saying that after a drink or two). Well, she nearly stepped on one when paddling. The black and yellow serpent was on the edge of the rock pool in which she was standing. Luckily for her, she had the sense to jump out before it could strike.

Once, while driving we came along what looked like a large tube strung across the road, on either side was long grass. We stopped the car at the very moment a large python crossed in front of the tube. It was not until the python’s head had disappeared into the grass that we realised the snake was doubling back on itself and the tube was part of the same python.

The nightly routine was to strip your bed before getting in, for, apart from snakes, you could find spiders and scorpions as sleeping companions.

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