Encounter with a Hippo

Encounter with a Hippo

by Sr. Lucia Lynch MMM           Ireland           26.11.2022

It was like any other morning in the Outpatients with patients sitting around awaiting treatment. Nurse Nyirenda came and gave a short health talk. As she finished, she glanced around to notice a young man sitting there with a look of great pain on his face. It was then she saw a pool of blood at his feet. Immediately she escorted him to the dressing room, just in time before he fainted. On examination, the man had a deep wound on his leg which was haemorrhaging a lot. As the nurse rendered first aid and prepared for suturing the wound, the man told her his story.

His name was Mr. Kamwenda and her lived about eight kms away near the Shire River, in Malawi ,where he had a maize field and a vegetable garden.
That morning around dawn he was busy hoeing and weeding his maize field when he saw a big hippo emerging from the river and entering the field. The hippo came towards him and Mr. Kamwenda immediately lay flat on the ground not moving a muscle as he watched the large animal descending on him. In an instant the man put out his leg and thrust it into the hippo’s mouth. What happened next was like a miracle. It seems that the hippo couldn’t do anything since his large teeth and huge laws could not sever the leg – instead he let o and as he did so one long canine dug deep into the man’s leg. Mr. Kamwenda did not dare cry out.

Once his leg was released, he lay very still acting as if he were dead. Opening his eyes, he watched the hippo gazing fiercely down at him, so in a final effort, Mr. Kamwenda thrust out his arm. The hippo only grazed it with his teeth causing a skin abrasion. All this time, Mr. Kamwenda was praying to God to deliver him from this terrible beast. The next moment, the hippo left him and disappeared once more into the wide river. Calling for help, his neighbours came running and carried Mr. Kamwenda on a bicycle to our clinic. He knew he had come very close to death that morning and could only say “Tithokoze Mulungu, Tithokoze Mulungu”. Thank God, thank God.

Surely Mr. Kamwenda was a brave man. He had no wish to stay in the clinic. As soon as his wound was sutured and he had received a tetanus injection, he was carried back by bicycle to his village. We saw him on his return visits to Outpatients, his wound healed well. Later he came with to us a basket full of cucumbers, from his farm on the Shire River.

First published in MMM Magazine 1992.