To The Thomas Pages homepage Episode of Gratitude - 4
Zambezi River Crocodile
It was in the early 1970s during South Africa's border wars with Russian trained cadres of the African National Congress. A strategic position on that border was the Caprivi Strip, between Botswana (Bechuanaland) and Zambia (Northern Rhodesia), of which its main settlement was Katima Mulilo on the Zambezi river. Across the river was a Russian military training base.
While pastoring a church in Pretoria, a deacon had suggested that we visit a Christian family in that location for their encouragement. So he and I drove north to Victoria falls, and then westward through Botswana and up into Caprivi along the banks of the Zambezi River.
A few days into our visit it was very very hot, and I decided the only way to cool down was to jump into the river. I did, and swam upstream against its bank and then floated downstream in its centre, which was the boundary with Zambia.
Nobody had mentioned crocodiles to me, probably because they did not think anyone would be so foolish as to swim in the river. African crocodiles are significantly more aggressive than North American alligators. All I was concerned about was to be able to cool down.
After several swims upstream and floating downstream, I stood to catch my breath, chest deep in the water, among a bank of reeds, not knowing that this was the favourite place of a local crocodile.
Later, after chatting to the soldiers in the lookout tower on the river bank, I was offered a ride in a motor boat by a local mechanic. As we circled across the river, he exclaimed and swung the boat toward the bank. Lying in the water where I had been standing to rest a few minutes earlier was a large crocodile with only its nose and eyes above water. The mechanic ran to get his shotgun and we circled back towards the crocodile, but, intelligent as it was, the moment he raised the shotgun it drop under the water.
I asked about the number of crocodiles in the river and he turned the boat upstream to show me a dozen or so lying in the sun on the Zambian bank of the river, some appeared about 8 foot long.
I was stunned that I had actually stood to catch my breath chest deep in the water where the crocodile itself was lying, and it had not even touched me. I could only think that in my ignorance, God's incalculable mercy had protected me.
Blessed be His lovely name!