Cangala and His Sister Ate the Food of the Evil Spirits

Here is a story:

Cangala and his sister lived together in a great village. One day, Cangala went hunting in an uninhabited place and discovered a great house. Inside the house he found many different types of honey. The Evil Spirits gathered honey and stored it in that house. They were still going to gather honey and bring it there. When Cangala got there, he went in the house and ate a lot of the honey, but then the honey seemed to tell him: I must stop. So he left the place and he took some of the honey home and gave it to his family and his sister. They ate and ate the honey, and this made them very happy.

One day, Lozi said: Where are you going? Today I shall go with you. Cangala said: O.K.Let’s go. They went together to the house with honey. There they ate honey until they were full, and then left.

When the Evil Spirits came to the house, they said straight away: It smells of people here! It smells of people here! They noticed some of their honey was gone and said: Who has been eating our honey? This occurred every day, and the Evil Spirits always said: It smells of people here. Who has been eating our honey?

One day, they went to the house and ate so much and Lozi became so full that she had stomach problems just there and could not walk. Her belly was an enormous size. Cangala said: Lozi, let’s go, but Lozi could not get up. Finally, the Evil Spirits came, and even though Lozi hid herself, they said: It smells of people here. They saw her and caught her, but Cangala had escaped before. Some of the Evil Spirits had one head, some had two, three, and so on up to one hundred. They pulled Lozi outside to tear her apart and eat her. They began to choose and reserve for themselves something to eat and shouted: Myself a leg, myself the head, myself a hand, myself an eye, myself a finger, myself a toe! Since there were so many of them, they divided among themselves all the parts of a person and finished the discussion. At the time when they were still discussing, Cangala turned himself into a little bird and stayed close to them. He started singing on the tree:

Lozi you are a cane rat, you carry reeds,
Lozi you are a cane rat, you carry reeds,
Let me dance first,
Let me dance first,
Let me dance first.

The Evil Spirits said: Listen, listen to how it is singing. He cooled them down with this song, and they liked it very much. So they started to move their bodies as if they were preparing for dancing. He sang again:

Lozi you are a cane rat, you carry reeds,
Lozi you are a cane rat, you carry reeds,
Let me dance first,
Let me dance first,
Let me dance first.

When they heard the song for the second time, they liked it so much that they started to dance. They danced and danced for a long time and then the bird flew away and sat down further away. Then the one-headed Spirit said to the two-headed Spirit: You stay and hold this person for me. Let me go and dance to the song of this small bird. So, he went to dance. At the place he stayed, little Cangala started to sing an amazing song, and the Spirit was having great fun dancing to it. The two-headed Spirit said to the three-headed Spirit: You stay and hold this person for me, let me go and dance to the song of this small bird. The Spirit went, and the small bird flew yet further and began singing over there. The three-headed Spirit said to the four-headed Spirit: You stay and hold this person for me. Let me go and dance to the song of this small bird. He went to dance. Now there were many, and they started to dance fervently. How they danced! They were handing over the task of holding the girl to others until there was only the Spirit with one hundred heads left; he was the last one. In the meantime, the small bird was moving further away. The one hundred-headed Spirit said to the tree: You tree, hold this person for me. Let me go and dance to the song of this small bird. The small bird sang very beautifully:

Lozi you are a cane rat, you carry reeds,
Lozi you are a cane rat, you carry reeds,
Let me dance first,
Let me dance first,
Let me dance first.

Now all of the Spirits were engaged in this fervent dancing. The small bird livened up a dance far from the house, and then right away he came back to the place where his sister was. She was in such shock that she was still encircling the tree as she was told to do by the last Evil Spirit. Immediately, Cangala came to Lozi and said: Let’s go! He tore away Lozi, his sister, from the tree which she was tightly encircling and forced her to go back to the village. Eventually, they got back to the village. The Evil Spirits kept on dancing, but when the song ended they all returned to the house trotting: nse nse nse, and they said: Let’s go back and finish our work. By the time they got there, Lozi and Cangala were gone. So they grabbed the one who was the last to watch her, the hundred-headed Spirit, and they ate him. In that way, Lozi was rescued from the Evil Spirits.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: do not let good things interfere with your welfare. Do not let pleasure interfere with safety.

The Mambwe proverbs say: ‘Let me drink beer to-the-last-drop’ was caught (Kamfipilile yamulemile, visisila kulyompa wapisile,’ or ‘Kankombesezye yamulemile, visisila kulyompa wapisile,’ or ‘Kankuulula, yamulemile);The one who drinks for a long time, drinks the sprouts of the germinating grain (Kamwa w’ikoko, alamwa nu musinda wa nzwila). English equivalent: Eat at pleasure, drink with measure; Feed by measure and defy the physician.

Subjects: immoderation – misfortune – lust – dangers – pleasure – welfare


Told by Mr Daniel Daudi Simungala from Nsindano (Kasakalawe) village (recorded).