Njuzu, beautiful water spirit, lures (or kidnaps) people she finds interesting to her underwater realm. Initially, she treats them harshly, but Njuzu is not really cruel: it’s a test to see how the person reacts and behaves:

• The person must accomplish whatever tasks Njuzu sets responsibly and graciously.

• Njuzu’s captive must eat whatever is offered. Otherwise the person will never be permitted to return home.

Njuzu initially offers food that a person is unlikely to desire: mud, worms, insects. Harsh treatment may last weeks, months, or even longer. If the person passes Njuzu’s test, then treatment improves as does the diet. Njuzu offers rice and various delicacies.

Njuzu can be extremely kind and generous. She is a wise spirit, a repository of knowledge. If captives pass her tests, they essentially become her apprentices to whom she bestows information and teaches various healing arts. Eventually, if all goes well, a kidnapped person is sent back home with a basket filled with magical medicines (mushonga). Njuzu has supplied this person with the skills, knowledge, and tools needed to become a potent and successful healer. The process can take a year or longer. Meanwhile those people left behind on land must participate, too. The captive’s relatives and loved ones must sing traditional ritual songs to Njuzu to ensure the person’s safety and return. Songs praising Njuzu are sung while kneeling and are accompanied by clapping. The song “Njuzu” by Zimbabwean singer and mbira musician Stella Chiweshe is available on her CD Ambuya? (Shanachie Records).


Njusu; Nzuzu; Zuzu


Shona (Zimbabwe)


Njuzu kidnaps and instructs both men and women.


Njuzu may appear as a mermaid or a beautiful woman.


  • Mermaid


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.