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‘Crocodile Nkhotakota’

My frequent work trips along the lakeshore road to Kande would see me dive through the town of Nkhotakota. More often than not this was a stop for fuel and a quick run into Peoples Supermarket for provisions and a snack. Nkhotakota always gave the impression of a quiet fishing town, where people got on with their lives in relative peace and I have no reason to doubt this.

On one occasion, however, I had the opportunity to spend a night or two in Nkhotakota, but not in the town. A few folks from Lilongwe were going on a fishing trip to the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and I was invited to tag along. I hadn’t gone fishing since a teenager, so this was going to be quite an experience. My previous fishing expeditions had been on a lake shore rather than a river bank.

With the pickup packed with all we needed, off we set on the 3 hour drive east from Lilongwe and then north from Salima. Arriving in the mid morning hours we checked in and went straight to the river bank. My friends had fished here before and as we made our way to the fishing point I was informed of the covenant!

Now, I am a student of theology and I love learning about the covenants of the Old Testament. This covenant, however, was quite different. It was put plainly to me: if anyone to attacked by a crocodile we all drop what we have and run to help.

This was quite the introduction, but of we set and within 30 minutes I had spied my first crocodile on the opposite side of the river. He was watching me as I was watching him. It was a slow morning, with little success until I felt my line pull. I had definitely caught something. I tried reeling it in, but the lure wouldn’t budge. My conclusion was it was caught on a tree root in the river. I pulled and flicked the rod to try and release the lure, but nothing worked. I was about to give up when I saw a dark green snout and two piercing black eyes come out of the water. I had caught a crocodile (or it had caught my lure between its teeth)!

A crocodile coming on the bank to catch a fish off a fishing line

At this point the question rose in my mind: what should I do? My friends egged me on to reel it closer; and closer it came. It was only at the last minute did it release the line and sink to the depths. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief that the covenant didn’t have to be enacted.

I would like to say the fishing improved after that, but it didn’t. I think the most successful anglers that whole day were the crocodiles. Still, it’s a great story to tell of how I wrestled with a crocodile and became ‘Crocodile Nkhotakota’.

My one and only catch of the day

Monday Malawi Memories recaptures memories from over 20 years in Malawi. Photos won’t be in chronological order and can be found on the Lilongwe Letters blog, and my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. You can also find them using the hashtag #mondaymalawimemories.

Visit my Instagram page to see the collection of photos memories at You can listen to the sounds of Africa on my playlist. Listen and follow links to music streaming services at

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