Oct 10, 2006, 10:51 AM
Post #1 of 1
This story was told to me by Nyahururu, and old man from the
Bamangwatu tribe. The Bamangwatu people live on the edges of the
flood-plains where the Ngwaa river runs into the Okavango. The story
concerns K’aark a little orphaned bushman boy. He had been found one day
wandering aimlessly in the bush by a matronly and generously
proportioned Bamangwatu woman called Malindi. She had lost several of
her sons to crocodiles during a cruel canoeing accident a couple of
years back and eased her grief by looking after the little bushman boy.
He remembered that his name was K’aark. The storyteller, Nyahururu,
explained to me that in the bushman tongue K’aark meant “snotty-nose”
and, in fact, his playmates often called him by their nickname for him,
Kakamega which means ‘number eleven’.
Now the Bamangwatu people held the bushmen in great awe as hunters
and it was assumed that K’aark would grow up to be one. In fact, he was
inept at everything that he ever turned to and, when he came home
empty-handed, as he inevitably did, he always blamed it on bad spirits
or wind blowing in the wrong direction. Because the Bamangwatu people
were a trusting people, by and large, they accepted his stories at face
One day K’aark left the village and headed off into the bush to
hunt game. His tracking ability was little better than useless and the
animals heard him and ran away long before he was even aware that they
were there. He trudged on through the morning, musing at the paucity of
wildlife. He sat down under an Msasa tree to rest. Unfortunately he
plonked himself down unknowingly onto his quiver of poisoned arrows.
Into one of these he induced an imperceptible but aerodynamically
By and by, K’aark wend his weary way home. As he neared the
village he came across an ill-fortuned Ostrich, which had fallen down a
steep slope as a chick and hit its head on a stone which had left it deaf,
it did not hear the clumsy approach of our erstwhile hunter.
K’aark selected by chance the modified arrow and let it fly from
his bow. It winged its way from him like frightened bird, but winged its
way in a gentle curve into some bushes.
All of a sudden there was a great roar and a commotion followed by
silence. K’aark rushed into the bushes to see what had happened and came
across a dead lion, poking out of the buttocks of which was K’aark’s
wayward but adequately venomous arrow. But more to the point, just
beyond the lion was the sleeping form of Oluwarukeri, the chief of the
village, whom the lion had been stalking for supper.
There was great rejoicing in the village. Now, it so happened that
Oluwarukeri was not just chief of the village but was, in fact, the
Great Paramount Chief of All the Bamangwatu people and he was greatly
pleased with K’aark.
Oluwarukeri called his people together in a great Ndaba. Now an
Ndaba is a kind of Baraza which is to say that it is like a Durbar which
is a congregation, a coming together or gathering. Oluwarukeri declared
before his assembled people from that day forwards, K’aark would be his
son. But more significantly that when Oluwarukeri left this world and
his spirit joined the spirits of his ancestors on Menengai, the Mountain
of God, K’aark would be the new paramount chief, his anointed successor.
A great shout went up, there was much rejoicing and feasting and
drinking of Chibuku, fermented millet which, when distilled, comes out
at about 50 over proof.
All of this was none to the liking of Olo-ololo who was the
chief’s biological son. Olo-ololo had left the village as a child, gone to
school and college and had returned a fully trained architect. But the
villagers laughed at his new ideas and he was the only one to build a
two-storied mud, wattle and thatch hut. Olo-ololo had much to be
resentful about and this last event had tipped the balance.
It was the tradition of these people that when the old chief had
decided who was to be his successor, usually his son, then he would pass
on to them the great limestone seat upon which the new king would be
crowned. It was the custom that the coronation could only take place
upon the sacred stone and whoever had the stone had the rights to the
tribal crown and the accolade, and I might add, the wealth of the people.
Olo-ololo hatched his dastardly plan. If he were to steal the
sacred block he could recover his inheritance and his pride. Stealing the
thing was no great problem. But where to keep it until an opportune moment
arose? He decided that the safest place was upstairs in his two-storey
Alas, the block of limestone proved a heavier proposition than
Olo-ololo had catered for and during the night it came crashing down
through the flimsy floor of his hut. It fell upon the hapless Olo-ololo
striking him instantly dead. The following morning they found him in his
misery of just desserts.
There is a moral to this story. People in grass houses shouldn’t
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