African Tales – Meeting Mr. Python

June 18 – Back in the day, Solusi Mission got most of its water from a dam about a mile away. Mission homes got some water in large galvanized tanks from roof drainage, and there was also a well on the mission that provided clear, clean water. The water from the dam was used for washing, bathing, watering plants, etc., because it was a dense grey that never cleared. Sitting in the bathtub I used to wonder idly what next might come out of the taps (faucets) since that water came directly from the dam, where all sorts of bugs and fish lived, but nothing other than grey water ever did appear. At least as far as I noticed…

Coiled python

Coiled python

One day I was down at the dam with a couple of the other missionary kids, Wayne Vail and Gary Garber. I was about twelve at the time, and the other two boys were several years younger. We were walking through the marsh grass and reeds and stopped to look around. The ground under my feet felt rather unstable so I moved aside to see what was causing that sensation. To our surprise it turned out to be a python that objected to being stood on. Fortunately it was not a really large one or I might have been in trouble. This one was only eight feet long, as we later measured it, but it did object to being trampled on and was soon striking angrily at us.

I badly wanted to capture it and take it home alive but was unable to get past that large mouth and its big teeth. Several times I grabbed its tail and dragged it around but it always came up striking at me and making me run away. Finally we began throwing things at it and finally a heavy piece of wood killed it and we were able to gather its coils up and drape them over my bicycle, the only one we had with us.

We pushed the bike and its load the mile back to the mission and took our prize around to show all the mission folk, then took it to my house and prepared a surprise for my dad, who wasn’t home at the moment. We coiled the dead snake up nicely in one corner of the front porch, and it really did look alive, so we figured that Dad would get a big surprise when he came up on the porch and saw this snake waiting for him. He did indeed get a surprise when he got home, for he found the python crawling down the steps off the front porch! Our snake had apparently just been stunned, and had now recovered and was on his way home when Dad arrived. I had to kill the snake again, permanently this time. We skinned it and had the skin for some time until little insect pests found it and riddled it with holes. – DALE

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