This is also one of my absolute favourites. I was a little surprised that Zimbabwe, a landlocked country, had a mermaid mythology, but my lovely colleague Chris Melville, the Africa ueber geek, gave me a book that explained that lakes and rivers are entry ways to the underworld (the book also had a chapter about a priest who, before he became a Christian cleric, had been raised by a witch father, and had travelled to that underworld regularly. He said that there were airports and universities in the underworld, and people trained in dark arts to then later re-emerge in the World Bank and the IMF in the upper world).
Reported on Zimnews, sometime in 2005: Mermaids were costly, but invisible
Harare - A woman has testified here that she paid a popular local musician to fly in five mermaids from London to help her recover a stolen car and cash. Businesswoman Magrate Mapfumo said she paid US$5,000 to fly the invisible mermaids here on the advice of musician Edna Chizema, who is on trial for theft, the state-owned Herald reported yesterday. Mapfumo testified that she sought Chizema's advice after her car and millions of Zimbabwean dollars were stolen. Zimbabwe's Shona people believe mermaids are fearsome enchantresses capable of wreaking vengeance on wrongdoers. She said she also paid for the mermaids to be housed at Harare's plush tourist resort, the Jameson Hotel, and supplied with cellphones and generators to cope with the capital's frequent power cuts, the paper said. "I asked about their names and I was told they were called Emma, Charmaine, Sharvine, Bella and a fifth one who was said to be an Arab mermaid," the Herald quoted Mapfumo saying. "She (Chizema) told me I could not see the mermaids as only spirit mediums could do so."