Here is a story:
There was a man who had many dogs. He was a hunter and enjoyed hunting as often as possible. One day, he said: I’m going hunting! On his way he met a Kaswenya (a small mouse with a long-pointed snout which gives off a strong stench) who was on one side of the trail and couldn’t jump over to its other side to get to the grass. The hunter watched the little creature mercifully and he let it climb on to the blade of a spear and jump over to the other side of the trail where it went on its way.
Then he went off stalking and hunting animals. He killed two partridges and then noticed that it was about to rain. So he ran over to his hunting-shed constructed out of sticks to hide himself. His shed was located close to the spot where he had noticed the little Kaswenya. As the rain approached, the Kaswenya said: This is where I will hide from the rain. The Kaswenya went into the shed and sat in a dark corner. The Kaswenya entered the shed at the same time the man entered the shelter. Then, moments later, a Lion burst in with astounding speed to find the man there. The man was awed and stared with his mouth open. The Lion said to the man: You take the partridges and feed them to the dogs. Then you will eat the dogs and I will eat you. The man said nothing. The Lion repeated: Don’t you understand? I want you to feed the partridges to the dogs, then I want you to eat the dogs so I can eat you! The man said nothing. The little Kaswenya said: Don’t you understand? Feed the dogs your partridges and then eat the dogs, so we can eat you, and hurry up. The Kaswenya hit the rafters: Gentlemen, the man of destruction sits in the corner, there. When the Lion heard this, he said: Then he will eat me too? The Lion turned around and ran out of the shed as far as he could in absolute horror. Then, the Kaswenya said: Father, I have saved you. Therefore, there is a saying: Swenya: ‘help me over the path’. Men help each other to jump over hurdles. And the man was saved.
And that is the end of our story.
The moral of the story: help one another, not only those who are important or rich. One good turn deserves another.
The Mambwe proverbs say: The swenya says: “help me over the path” (Swenya ati: “ncizyi nzila”); The swenya (says): help me over the path, men help each other to jump over (Swenya ncizyi nzila, aonsi amacizyanya); A small arm follows its companion (Akakasa kakakonka, akauze); A small dried gourd rind follows its companion (Akatowa kakakonka, akauze); (An animal) steps (walks) where (another animal) stepped (walked) (Ikalyata, muno yalyasile); Mother, carry me on your back and I shall do the same when you get old (Mayo mpapa, nani ndakupapa).English equivalent: One good turn deserves another.
Subjects: friendship – helping in need – gratitude – good deeds – love – impartiality – bias – prejudice
Written by Kleto Kaputu, 30th of August 1994.