Here is a story:
There was a house Rat and a little bush Mouse. Together, they went in search of a fortune and on the way they met an old woman. They asked if she knew of anyone with a fortune who could employ them in order to let them earn some money.
The old woman told them: Listen to my advice! You have to be very clever, because if you are not attentive, the ones who are on your path will eat you. That is why you have to be very careful. They noted the advice, and simply said: We understand. They went about their journey, travelling down a wide road. On the road they were travelling they noticed something far off in the distance. They had no idea what it was. It was a Cat that had crawled into a hole to eat some of the small animals found there. The two didn’t pay any attention to it and continued down the road. The bush Mouse walked carefully and slowly, turning around to see where it had gone, then turning back around to continue on. The house Rat didn’t pay any attention to this and just kept walking on. The bush Mouse said to his companion: My friend, the old woman said: ‘Be very careful and be aware of everything that’s around you’. The house Rat replied: My friend, I see everything very well.
As they walked on, the bush Mouse was constantly looking behind him. The Cat was coming closer and closer to them. He was just there when the bush Mouse said: Let me look back, he saw the Cat very close to him, screamed and leapt into the bush grass. The house Rat asked: What is going on? The house Rat turned around to see why his companion had screamed. Wow! He was in the Cat’s mouth. Immediately, the Cat ate the house Rat and that was the last of him. The bush Mouse saved himself because he was always aware of his surroundings.
And that is the end of our story.
The moral of the story: one should not ignore warnings made by elders. The story reminds us that children and inexperienced people are unable to understand allusions, they take everything literally. It is also about a child whom the parents brought up and has to henceforth take care of himself because he is now a grown-up. The story explains how people who seek advice from others do not act accordingly.
The Mambwe proverbs say: Child, see the moon, and it sees only a finger (Mwana, lolu mwezi; alolu munwe); Little mouse, I have given you brains which you will destroy yourselves (if you wish)(Sekeseke nakupandila, we mweneco ulayononele); Let us bring the small fish to them (the owners) and may the owners destroy them themselves (Sense tuyatwalile, aeneco yace yayononele); Let us bring the small fish to them, the owners, who may come and destroy them themselves (Sense tuyatwalile, aeneco yakayononele). English equivalent: He is wise that is aware in time.
Subjects: advice – safety – allusions – wisdom – carefulness – dangers – imprudence – responsibility – maturity
Written by Stanislaus Sinyangwe, 07th of September 1994.