How Cangala Saved the Girl Lozi from the Evil Spirit

The love of other people can save others.

Here is a story:

There once was a very big village, and in this village there lived a girl named Lozi. Lozi was a good and beautiful girl and had a younger brother named Cangala. Lozi refused to marry any of the men that wanted to marry her. Anyone who said: Lozi, I want to marry you, she always turned them down. There was always a great number of men who would come to her place, but she never agreed. Finally, a young man came and said: I want you to be my wife and this time she agreed.

The young man that Lozi agreed to marry was not really a man, but he was an Evil Spirit who could transform himself into a man and what is more he was an incredibly handsome young man. Lozi had not a clue about this; she was completely in the dark. So when the agreement was completed, the young man immediately brought the wedding gift in order to brew the beer for the marriage. They prepared the wedding beer, it boiled and bubbled and the end result was fantastic. He stayed in the village together with Lozi’s parents, and everybody went out of their way to help him just as if he was a family member. Even Lozi’s friends were in the dark and did not know he could change into something else. Finally, the day of the wedding came. As he was taking her away from her parents he said: I am going to take her away, and he gave them a customary dowry which allowed him to take his bride to his house. He said: Tomorrow we are leaving. So then she went around and asked some girls and a few boys to accompany her.

Early in the morning, they set off on their journey to the home of the young man. Then Cangala, Lozi’s brother, said: Let me go with you. Lozi, his older sister, said: No, I want you to stay behind. I want you to stay with the children. As the old saying goes: You will end by plugging the hole where the honey trickles (you will kill the golden goose that lays the eggs). But he refused to listen. He said to himself: What can I do? I know! They began their journey, but Cangala was clever and followed them at a distance. Every time they looked back, he would hide himself by crouching down. The first time he said: Let me go with you, his older sister beat him. So, he decided to be clever about it and followed them the whole way at a distance, and he would crouch down every time they looked back. When they were half way there they got tired and decided to rest and get some sleep. Cangala slept alone, not far from where they were all sleeping.

They woke up in the morning and went on and on and on. And finally, he was asked: Oh heavens, where is your home? He replied: Soon you will see, let’s keep going. Once again, they had to spend a night on the road. And once again, Cangala rested close to their camp.

In the morning, they continued walking on and on until they arrived at the young man’s home. When they saw it, they could only make out the smoke coming from one of the houses. The other Evil Spirits were out hunting a great distance from where they usually hunted, far from home. When they arrived, they sat down and someone asked: Is this your home? He replied: Yes. It is. They saw all of the uncooked meat the Evil Spirits had gathered in the house, and it was uncooked because the Evil Spirits did not know how to use pots. They only took the meat they had gathered and roasted it on the fire, and then they ate it. They said: We will see what it is like to live here. When they were thinking about the life ahead of them, Cangala arrived at the man’s home. They asked: Cangala, what are you doing here? They were completely at a loss as to what to do, and they were shocked to see him. Since the return trip was so far, could they just chase him away? Could they possibly send him back to their village? They could not figure it out!

In the evening, the other Evil Spirits began to return, marching in Indian file and making a nse nse nse sound. Finally, they arrived. The young man then transformed himself and began to look like the other Evil Spirits. Lozi and her companions ate the roasted meat and then went to sleep. The Evil Spirits built a great house which had a veranda and two entrances: one inside, one outside. The house stayed closed at all times unless someone sang a song, and then the door would open and they could go inside. It would close when they went outside as well.

Later, when Lozi and her companions said: Let us go to sleep, one of the Evil Spirits would stand at the centre of the door and sing:

Let the walls open!
Let the walls open!
Let the walls open!
Let us eat our meat!
Let the walls open!
The food has brought itself!
Let the walls open!
Let us eat the ones blind to danger!
Let the walls open!

From that moment, Cangala knew what was going on but his companions had no idea what the words meant. They were completely in the dark. When one of the Evil Spirits went into the interior portion of the house, he still sang the same song. The doors opened and one after the other they went in and went to sleep. The Evil Spirits surrounded the whole interior of the house and even overflowed onto the veranda. They ate until they were full and in the morning they left the house singing:

Let the walls open!
Let the walls open!
Let the walls open!
Let us eat our meat!
Let the walls open!
The food has brought itself!
Let the walls open!
Let us eat the ones blind to danger!
Let the walls open!

All of the doors of the house would open: the inner one and the external one. The people went out and began to dance. They did the same thing every day, opening and closing the doors of the house. When the Evil Spirits went to eat or to bring more food they never left the door of the house open. The people had to stay inside.

This situation continued for some time. The people ate a lot, and the Evil Spirits brought them more food. Finally, when the people were fat, the Evil Spirit who transformed himself into a man was so bored that he said: Let us eat them now!

In the morning, when the people were still sleeping, the evil spirit would sing the song to open and close the door. But Cangala always heard the song they sang because he never slept there, and he never ate the meat they gave him. He just spent his time near the fire.

One day, Cangala spoke to one of the companions and said: My friend, come with me and see for yourself what the evil spirit is doing! The companion whom Cangala asked, went and heard for himself what the Evil Spirit said. On another day, Cangala called one of the girls to come at night and hear the words herself so she could be convinced, as the proverb says: A thing seen vaguely turns out to be a lie (one person cannot be a reliable source of information: there must be a witness). Then in the evening, she heard the words:

Let the walls open!
Let the walls open!
Let the walls open!
Let us eat our meat!
Let the walls open!
The food has brought itself!
Let the walls open!
Let us eat the ones blind to danger!
Let the walls open!

And at the time the doors were closing, the same thing happened. When she heard the song, she became very worried. The girl told Lozi what was happening with the Evil Spirit and she added: It is your husband. Lozi became terribly frightened and then she said: My God! People will die! What will happen to the village where my parents live? Will they die as well?

A month had just passed since they left their village. They were supposed to return, but they did not. Cangala told Lozi: We have to think of a good way to save the people who you brought here. Lozi couldn’t think of anything and then Cangala said to her: O.K., tomorrow I will show you what to do. Luckily for them, the Evil Spirits not only ate game meat but also a great number of huge cows from various breeds they had in a kraal. It is why he said: Don’t worry! Besides that, the Evil Spirits had a huge house where they had a great fortune hidden which no man could carry.

The next day when the Evil Spirits went off, Cangala sneaked into the cattle-shed and took the cows. He gave one to everyone so they would be able to ride away on them. Cangala also made a rope in order to control the cows and to prevent the rider from falling off. This is what he did, and everyone got one. Then he said: O.K.! Go ahead! No matter what happens don’t talk, just keep going without stopping! When he had prepared everything, Cangala found some stones which were the same height as a man. He then laid the stones exactly the same way everyone used to sleep. Then he did what the Evil Spirit would do to close the door, and it was done!

At noon, Cangala called all the people and tied them all to their cows when they mounted. He also took some of the treasures found in the treasure house and gave everybody some of the treasure to take along with them. Then he sang:

You young cow, you young cow,
Swing your tail, you young cow,
Swing your tail, you young cow,
Carry me away, you young cow.
Swing your tail, you young cow.

The cows got up and began to jump with joy over and over again swinging their tails. Where were they going to? Back to the place where they came from. Cangala told them: I will meet you at the resting place. In fact, that is what they did, they went and rested there.When the Evil Spirits were coming back from the bush and were very close to the village, Cangala left and reached the appointed resting place.

Finally, the Evil Spirits arrived home and discovered the people were not there. They had planned: Today we are going to eat them! They said:

I will eat the ribs,
I will eat the little head
and I will eat the leg.

They went into the house and found the stones and thinking that they were the people, they jumped on them. One of the Evil Spirits broke his tooth on it and cried: Oh my God! Oh my tooth! Then all of them said: Let’s go and follow them! They ran very fast to the place where the people were with a strong desire to get them back. When they saw the people, they overtook them. Then they barred the road facing the people and said: Hey! Where are you coming from? Cangala then sang a short song:

We come from the Ciwanza
place where the wheat is put out to dry,
We come from the Ciwanza
where the wheat is put out to dry,
that is where we are from.

The Evil Spirits said: These are not the ones. These ones are different. Then the Evil Spirits left them. They went back to the village and the people began to sing again:

You young cow, you young cow,
Swing your tail, you young cow,
Swing your tail, you young cow,
Carry me away, you young cow.
Swing your tail, you young cow.

The cows got up and began to jump with joy over and over again and finally the people arrived at the village. The Evil Spirits, however, decided to go back saying: Let us catch them! But Cangala started to sing his song:

We came from the Ciwanza place, which means: we are not coming from your place, we came from chief Ciwanza place.

The Evil Spirits went back to the village and grabbed and ate him – the Evil Spirit who brought the bride along with him in order to eat her. And in that way, the people were saved. If Cangala had not loved these people and his older sister, they would not have been saved.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) God has created heaven and earth and, being created in His image and likeness, we should worship Him even in our sufferings. We can thus attain eternal life; (2) double standards are not to be tolerated, especially in the realm of morals; (3) it is the reason why we say: “Getting married to someone you do not know is not good”. We should not rush to marry because being married to one whom we do not know may afterwards bring misfortune upon us.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (1)The day when God is going to give you a meal is unknown (Wanda uno Leza akukwimula, usimanyikwa); God is a blacksmith, he does not forge for just one person (Leza umusuzi, asisulila wenga); God does not forget any living being (that stands)(Leza, asyailila icimilile).

Subjects: double standards – troubles – friendship – helping in need – God – Creator – worship – preparation – marriage


Told by Mr Daniel Daudi Simungala from Nsindano (Kasakalawe) village (recorded). Cf. second (10) and third (11) version: Cangala: The Man Who Defeated the Man Who Could Turn into a Lion, written by Vera Mwimbe and How Cangala saved Lozi from the Evil Spirit told by Daniel Daudi Simungala.