Cobra’s Bane is not a nickname I thought I would ever inherit, but after killing a few cobras it stuck.
Since moving to Nairobi, Kenya to assist with a church replant, one of my unforeseen hobbies has been killing snakes.
The first snake was a black-necked spit- ting cobra. It crawled into our storage room one hot day looking for a place to cool off. Unfortunately, our gardener was already napping in there. After watching him run, I no longer doubt the reason for Kenyan supremacy in marathons.
I wasn’t sure what snake I was dealing with, so I quickly grabbed my snake hunting gear. This consisted of rubber boots, a jacket, gloves, a hat, and sunglasses. Goggles may have been better when dealing with cobra venom, but they’re not as cool. I walked into the storeroom, and was a few feet away from a spitting cobra. Wishing my sunglasses were a welders mask, I pinned down the snake with a large pry bar. The trick was finding someone to hold the pry bar while I finished the job. My neighbor came out to see what the commotion was, and I pressed him into service. I grabbed a machete and sent the snake to its maker.
Needless to say, the snake was not pleased at being decapitated. Let’s face it. Would you be? When the pry bar was removed from the snake’s head, it opened its mouth and attempted to spit venom at us. This continued for about five minutes.
The second cobra appeared a few months later, this time during a class I was teaching at a local bible college. I was in the middle of teaching a class on eschatology, and had just finished teaching on the events described in Revelation 13. I had just asked if there were any questions when I heard the school’s cook screaming. I ran out of the classroom, with the students following. Coming around the corner we saw the groundskeeper throwing stones at a black-necked spitting cobra. I told the students to stay back, as I knew this snake was able to spit its venom up to seven feet away. One of the other students grabbed a stone and threw it, pinning the snake down. He was rewarded by being sprayed with venom, barely missing his eyes.
The gardener threw a hoe at the snake, trying to kill it. It bounced off the concrete slab, and flew at me. Believe it or not… I grabbed it out of the air as it sailed past me, tossed it into my left hand. In one fluid movement I spun it around like Aragorn wielding Andúril, and ran up to the cobra. It turned towards me, but before it had a chance to open its mouth and spit, I slammed the hoe down on its neck, severing head from body.
I turned back to my students, dropped the hoe, and said, “And the great dragon was cast down, that ancient serpent!” I walked back into the class to pick up class where we had left off, but I walked back a legend.
I figured I had put on a good show, but the surprise of the day was for me. The big topic of conversation inside the classroom was not about my snake killing skills, but whether the snake would be okay to eat.