Five Boys and the One Named Caupele (scabies)

Here is a story:

There once was an extravagant village and in this village there lived many young men. Six young men went off to another big village to find themselves wives. Out of these boys there were five normal ones and one that had scabies all over his body. Everyone called him Caupele.

The boys didn’t want Caupele to come along with them. They said: You will bring a disgrace to us. When the five boys went off, Caupele followed behind them very closely. When the boys ran into an old woman, they decided to join her and sit down to rest. Moments later, Caupele appeared. When they saw him, they were very embarrassed so they wanted to chase him away and said: We’re not with you, we don’t even know you. The old woman told them: Let him go with you; he is human after all.

When it was dark, the boys sent the old woman to bring the girls (to meet the boys). A lot of girls came and one of them was the chief’s daughter. All of the boys wanted to marry the chief’s daughter and she turned them all down. The boys decided to marry the girls of this important village since the chief’s daughter wouldn’t have them.

Then Caupele said: I think I’ll try to talk to the chief’s daughter. To everyone’s amazement, the daughter of the chief agreed to him. Her father, the chief, asked her: You could have married any one of these boys, yet you picked Caupele, why? The daughter said: I would die for him, that’s why. Caupele is the one I want!

A few days went by and the chief’s daughter married Caupele. Caupele had a ring, and after marriage Caupele said to the ring: My dear ring, please help me get rid of my scabies. I want smooth skin. The ring did as Caupele asked (and his skin was smooth and normal). Again, Caupele asked:My dear ring, can you please grant me a fortune as vast as any other: beautiful houses with electricity. Once again his wish was granted. He built the chief a great home and made him rich.

Then Caupele and his father-in-law, the chief, lived well and in joy. The chief divided his country and eventually gave it to Caupele to rule.

The five boys’ in-laws complained: If she had only refused to marry Caupele, he would have married my child. Everybody said the same.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: never ignore people who might seem unimportant or poor as the last will become first and the first will be last. Do not judge on appearances only because you may underestimate his abilities.

The Mambwe proverbs say: When you see a leafless tree, do not say: “It is dead” (Utalola umuti ukupululuka, uti: uma);English equivalent: “All that glitters is not gold”; “Appearances are deceptive/deceitful/deceiving”; “Beauty is but/only skin-deep”; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; “Never judge a book by its cover”; “Never judge from appearances”; “Things are not always what they seem”; “You cannot judge of a tree by its bark”; “You can’t tell a book by its cover”.

Subjects: appearances – judging – wisdom – honesty – goodness – underestimating – dangers


Written by Joseph Kafunda, 07th of September 1994.