The Legend of "Donna"

Among the Central African people, who deeply respect the spirits of the waters, they fear the shape of gods and goddesses most.

These so called “creatures of the waters or rivers”, were mostly female and demanded offerings from local residents. She pulled her offerings, often human, down to the bottom of the river to be consumed.

The arrival of the Portuguese and their “mermaid” offered the people bordering the Congo river a kinder, more humane, image of the creature that fishermen feared so much.

By humanizing it, giving it a face and a friendly name, "Donna ", meaning “lady” in Portuguese, the fear disappeared.

Donna is currently offered flowers, fruit and fish, and she is asked to protect the husbands that go fishing and use the river. Her image is carved into wood and it’s now unthinkable that people be at the mercy of the river monster. The legend of "Donna" has spread across borders with beliefs shared by the people of the Zambezi and the Kafue Rivers alike.

In Zambia she is called "Kitapo" and seems more evil than her sister of the Katanga region. Her malice, however, does not punish innocent men.

Here "Kitapo" protects the weak and saves virtuous husbands. Sometimes she is seen sitting in the middle of the rocks. Others have seen her save a child in the rapids.

Woe to those who do not respect her, liars, murderers, rapists alike, who will be thrown to the bottomless abyss and offered as food to "Muntu Mamba" half man, half-crocodile.

“La Donna”, while unobtrusive is still a virtual belief, so with a little luck, and if your heart is pure, she could appear before you between two waves

Bernard Calonne

Professional canoe guide and founder of Mawimbi

Tom Heinecken

Founder of Mawimbi

Nathalie Calonne

Founder of Mawimbi

"i think i had a wonderful time"