The Bundle Wrapped Up with Straw which Contained a Person

Here is a story:

Sicomba and Nacomba married and lived together in great hardship because Sicomba’s wife was very lazy and did no housework. They had one child which was named Comba.

Sicomba, therefore, often thought about the laziness of Nacomba. After many days, Nacomba went to her parents because she was in tatters due to her laziness, and little Comba went along with his mother.

Sicomba was now alone because Nacomba had left him. He remarried an unmarried woman in the village and they started to live together. She was a very hard worker.

Little Comba, who went to their place with Nacomba, began working by digging deep trenches for animal traps in the bush. If Comba caught many animals, he would eat them along with his mother, grandfather, and grandmother. They would bring some of the animals as tribute to the king, Katila.

One day, there was a notice sent from the palace, announcing: Look for a girl that has gone missing. When the announcement was made, Comba went to check his traps in the bush. As he arrived and checked his first trap, he found a massive Warthog in the trench. He did not manage to get the Warthog out of the trap alone, and so he returned to the village to find some help. It was the time when the people heard that a girl had gone missing, but nevertheless they did their best and went to take the Warthog out of the trap. Comba told the people who came with him to carry the Warthog and that they could go back to the village because he still had some more traps to check and so they did.

When he got to the other game-pit he saw there was something in the trap. He looked inside immediately and saw the missing girl. He covered the game pit straight away and feeling completely exhausted, ran back to the village. He secretly entered the house and told his mother, Nacomba, about it, asking her what he could do. She advised him to go to his father, Sicomba, and explain the problem to him.

In order to go to his father’s house, he got up very early in the morning so no one would see him because all the people in the village were looking for the missing girl. When he arrived at his father’s place, he greeted him, but his father was not happy to see his child even though he had not visited him for many days. This is why when little Comba explained to him the problem, he decided not to give him any advice on the subject.

Comba began to plead with his father: This will never happen again. The father started to rebuke him and said: You kill many animals all the time and eat with your mother and you take some to the king but you give nothing to me. Let the king tell you what to do since he is your father and the one you trust.

Comba was persistent and wouldn’t stop asking his father for help. So the father thought to himself: A child is like an axe, you cut yourself with it and then hang it back on your shoulder (Mambwe proverb). He told his son to take the girl out of the game pit, and wrap her in straw and take her to the king’s advisors at the palace. He told him: When you arrive at the king’s place, do not say anything to the king’s advisors. What is more, you should go there during the night so they will take this bundle thinking that some people have offered some game meat to the king.

This is what Comba did. He went to the king’s palace at midnight. He knocked at the door, and the kings advisors opened and received the bundle in which he held the dead girl, but since it was dark he was not recognised.

In the morning, when they unwrapped the bundle in order to give the king the meat which they thought had been brought, they found the missing girl. The king made charges against them since they did not know who had brought the bundle with the body in it.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: the story encourages parents to show mercy to their children and children to be obedient in return. A parent does not do away with a troublesome, lame or stupid child. Even if you have sinned against God, He will show you mercy if you repent.

The Mambwe proverbs say: A parent who begets a cripple does not throw him out (get rid of him)(Mukwata cile, asisumba); A child is like a small hatchet: if it hurts you, go back and put it on your shoulder.English equivalent: Every mother thinks her own gosling a swan; The black crow thinks her own birds white; The crow thinks her own birds the fairest/whitest.

Subjects: forbearance – parents – forgiveness – children – God – mercy – obedience – repentance


Written by Abraham Cisawawa, 07th of September 1994. Cf. in second version 1 (The Young Man named Mutulamfwa (The One Who Offers Death)).