The Cruel Man who Wanted to Kill the Days

Here is a story:

There was a man whose name was Cruel. There was nothing good about the man named Cruel because whenever someone did something bad, even a small thing, he would kill him; so really there was nothing good about him. The man’s wife would always say: My husband is very bad-tempered so I always have to coax him. By doing this she only made Cruel even worse because of his cruel nature.

One day, Cruel said to his wife: I’m going out right now. Brew some beer so I will find a full pot of beer on my return and doing this, you will have done well. If I find out you gave some of the beer to the people, I will kill them and you as well. Cruel’s wife brewed the beer and put it in pots full to the brim. Many days went by and the beer dried up to the point where there was very little left in the pots. She saw that Cruel was coming back. Cruel said: Bring me my beer. When Cruel discovered there was almost no beer left he said:Who drank my beer, why is there only so little left? His wife said: The days. He asked her: Where are they? She replied: They went to the west.

Cruel took the pot of beer, poured some water in it and drank from it till he got drunk. Then he told his wife: I will go where the days went. She showed him the way to the west and said to herself: If I tell him: ‘Days cannot be followed because they do not appear like mountains,’ he would kill me. Let him go himself and kill them. Cruel took his two boys and his spears, saying: Let me go and kill the days. Wherever Cruel went he asked: Where did the days go? The people answered: That way. He went on and continued asking and they always gave him the same answer. In this way one of Cruel’s children died and soon after the other one died. Cruel continued on his own and finally he died shamefully, then the animals ate his body.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) any person that does not want to live with other people in love and harmony will die like an animal; (2) no man can conquer the days because the days conquer him.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (1) Let me stay near (approach) the hills so I will enjoy eating the mushrooms (Impalamu twamba, nga ndye uwowa ningo). English equivalent: (1) A lone sheep is in danger of the wolf; (2) we are like the nsamvu: we germinate to rot very soon (Sweswe nsamvu, tukamelela ukuola). English equivalent: Life is but a span.

Subjects: co-existence – harmony – cruelty – punishment – time – transitoriness


Written by Joseph Cikopela Siwila, Matanga 9th of April 1984.