One morning I was having a class with the young students. Rehema, Anna, and Neema all live at the home and go to day school. Joseph and Asha are both in boarding school, but were home for the holidays. They range in age from 7 to 11 years old. Class with this group is a bit like "Little House on the Prairie".
There was a bit of commotion outside, but I did not pay attention to it until Tom came and called us to come and see a visitor. There on the ground in front of one of the student dorms was a green mamba snake….between three and four feet long. Christian was standing over it with a heavy, long stick, which he had used to kill the snake. Green mambas are on the list of 10 most poisonous snakes in Africa. They are a beautiful shade of green, with bright red inside the mouth.
Mama Mdemu had been walking to the door of the building when she spotted the snake on the windowsill. Here when you cry out, “Nyoka, nyoka” (snake, snake) people come running with whatever weapon they can grab. Christian had the long stick, Mr Emmanuel, the farmer, came with a hoe and Mr Matheya, the cowboy (really!) came with his machete.
We were under the mistaken impression that we were in too cool of an area for any dangerous snakes. We were wrong. In language school, one of the things we learned was that if you yelled “mwizi” (thief) people would come to your aid. Apparently “nyoka” draws quick attention too.
Mama Mdemu taught us that one of the best ways to discourage green mambas from your area is to plant cherry tomatoes near your doorway. So, guess what Veronica bought in town for us the next market day? Yep…some cherry tomato plants. Hopefully this will be the last snake we see.
(Hatari means danger)
Mama Mdemu, Mama Mrisho and Christian
saying, "Hatari, Hatari!!"