The Catfish and the Water – Real Friends

Here is a story:

There once was a female Catfish that lived in the bush which is the world we are in. The Catfish had no friends to play with. So she thought to herself: I have to find a friend even if I have to visit the whole world.

The Catfish went in search of a friend. First she met a Lion. When the Catfish met the Lion, they greeted each other. After greeting each other the Catfish asked the Lion: Would you like to be my friend? The Lion agreed and said: I agree to be your friend. So the Catfish continued by saying to the Lion: My friend, I would like us to laugh and cry together. And when I die, I want you to die with me. When the Lion heard the part about dying, he said: I cannot agree because you may die first. So, my friend I cannot agree, this is too difficult. The Catfish failed do find a friend. So she went on further in search of a real friend. She met a Wild Boar and he told her the same thing that the Lion had said.

The Catfish continued until she found Water. When the Catfish found the Water she immediately wanted to talk with it. Straight away, the Catfish said to the Water: Dear friend, I have come in search of a real friend to play with, someone who will laugh with me, cry with me, and when I die, someone who will die with me. The Water replied: I agree to all these conditions. What you ask of me can easily be accomplished. The Catfish jumped deep into the Water and began joyfully playing together with the Water.

Many days the Catfish and the Water played together, they went through happiness and sadness together. One day, the Catfish was in the Water and a Fisherman came with his fishhook for fishing. He dropped a hook into the river. After a few moments, the Catfish came from where it was playing and swallowed the hook. The man who was fishing pulled the Catfish ashore. The Fisherman was very happy and took the Catfish and put her in a pot and filled the pot with Water. When the Catfish opened her eyes, she saw the Water in the pot. The Catfish was surprised and said: My friend, Water, came as he must have said: I will follow my friend! The Water replied: My friend, I gave you my word and therefore I am here with you. The Catfish thanked it.

The Fisherman took the Catfish to the village. When he got to the village, his wife greeted him, and she put the Catfish into the pot. She cut it up into pieces. When she finished doing this, she poured some Water in order to rinse it so she could do the cooking. When the Catfish saw the Water, she was really surprised and said: You are a real friend. The Water replied to the Catfish: I can’t abandon you as we swore eternal friendship (until death).

The woman put the Catfish on the heat. And believe me, my people, the Catfish started to boil. When the Catfish was done, she took it out from the fire. Afterwards she prepared the mush to go with the fish and took it all to the meeting house.

The Fisherman was in such a hurry to eat the Catfish that he took off his shirt. When he was finished eating, he took some Water and drank it. The Catfish opened her eyes and saw that the Water was coming. She was very surprised and said: My friend, the Water, is coming! The Water replied: Even in digestion, we will be together. The Catfish kept quiet. The man who ate the Catfish said: I have to go and relieve myself! The man went to the toilet and relieved himself, also passing some Water. The Catfish opened its eyes and saw the Water coming and said: Even here the Water is coming. The Water said: My word is my word, together till the bitter end (literally: to rotting).

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: friendship is true friendship when it is for better and for worse.

The Mambwe proverbs say: Where there is someone looking after a child (or children), a child does not fall over (Ukuli alezi, kusyaponu mwana); Where there is someone looking after a child (or children), there are no children which fall over (Ukuli alezi, kusyapona ana). English equivalent: “A friend in need is a friend indeed”; “A friend is never known till a man has need”; “A friendless person is poor”.

Subjects: friendship – test


Written by Edward Mwimbe, 07th of September 1994.