The Evil Spirit and His String of Beads

Here is a story:

There once was a young man who got engaged to a beautiful girl and delivered the engagement presents as he was told. As the day of the wedding was approaching, he went hunting in the bush; and as he was hunting he got very tired. Along the way, he met an Evil Spirit who was sitting on the road and they greeted each other. The Evil Spirit had a beautiful string of beads around his neck. When the young man saw these beads on the Evil Spirit, he coveted them very much. He said to the Evil Spirit:Sir, please lend me that string of beads until I marry my fiancée. I will return them after our marriage. The Evil Spirit didn’t agree and said: You should not make my head bigger (in Mambwe to make a head bigger means to cause trouble to somebody). The young man said to him: I won’t cause you any trouble, andafter some time, the young man finally talked the Evil Spirit into lending him his string of beads. The Evil Spirit said to him: As soon as you marry, you must return the necklace to me. Then the young man returned to the village.

After a few days, the marriage was about to take place. When they arrived at his bride’s house, they announced: The bridegroom has come, the bridegroom has come! That morning he took the necklace with him and put it on his bride’s neck and she looked very beautiful. After the wedding ceremony, they went back to their house. Many people asked him: Where did you get such a beautiful necklace? He told them: I bought it. The Evil Spirit got very upset because many days had passed since he lent his necklace. Then one day, the young man met the Evil Spirit who asked him: Where is my necklace? Do you think you are really that clever? Go and get my necklace immediately! The young man went to his wife and said: Give me the necklace so we can return it to its owner. His wife replied: In that case, you borrowed it, didn’t you? The young man replied: Yes I did. Then the wife gave the necklace to her husband.

When the man brought the necklace back to the Evil Spirit, it wouldn’t fit over the Evil Spirit’s head. Then the Evil Spirit said: Didn’t I tell you: You should not make my head bigger? Go and bring me my necklace! The man ran back to the village and said to his wife: Add some beads to the necklace because it is too small for the owner. She began to add beads, and when she finished she gave it back to her husband. He returned to the Evil Spirit and found the head was even bigger than before. Again the necklace would not go over the Evil Spirit’s head. The young man began to really worry, and the Evil Spirit began to walk towards the village. The young man came back to the village and told his wife to add more beads again. After she added them, he brought it to the Evil Spirit and found that his head was even bigger. The necklace would not go over the Evil Spirit’s head. Once again, the Evil Spirit said: Didn’t I tell you: You should not make my head bigger? When the Evil Spirit finally arrived at the village the young man died just at that moment, and a short while later the young man’s wife also died. The people said: The Evil Spirit caused them to die. It was the bridegroom who made the Evil Spirit come to our village.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) marriage requires much patience and perseverance; (2) do not desire things which are not yours. Avarice brings misfortune.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (1) Trees that are close to each other are seldom without a squeak (Imiti ipalamine isyaula kusyana); (2)Flour which is not yours is like ashes (Usu, usi umwako, itwi);Let us pound the leaves (to make a relish of gluey appearance), let us not think of the meat which belongs to others (Tuponde kumbi, tutatwala mwenzo mu nyama zya yantu). English equivalent: “Covetous man is good to no one, but worst to himself”; “Covetousness brings nothing home”; “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face”.

Subjects: avarice – misfortune – marriage – perseverance – patience


Written by an unknown author.