The Evil Spirit and the Girl Who Broke the Clay Pot

Here is a story:

In a place where many people lived, there lived a daughter who liked to carry a clay pot for gathering water. The mother told her: If you break that pot, do not bother coming back to this village. One day, the child broke the pot and so could not return to the village because her mother had told her not to return if the pot was broken.

The girl went ahead in the direction of the bush until she got to the place where a giant tree grew and there she laid herself down to sleep. Early in the morning, she arrived at the Evil Spirit’s home and saw that the Evil Spirit was not home, only his wife was left. The girl said to the Evil Spirit’s wife: I have broken the clay pot at the place where I stayed. The Evil Spirit’s wife replied: Crawl into the pot and go to sleep, and so the girl went inside.

Early the next day, when the Evil Spirit went hunting, he took the girl with him and told her: Try not to speak of your thirst, or otherwise I will punish you. The girl had not drank anything and began to talk about being thirsty. When the Evil Spirit heard this, he began to run after the girl so he could hit her. She climbed up a tree and when the Evil Spirit got to the tree he began singing:

Teeth of mine begin to kill.

Just as the tree was about to collapse, a little bird said: My tree, do not fall and the tree straightened back. The Evil Spirit continued to try and catch her, but he failed. Once again it sang in the way it was singing before. When the tree was about to collapse, the bird would say: My tree, do not collapse,and the tree always straightened up. Finally, the girl’s family heard what was going on and called their dogs to attack the Evil Spirit. But the Evil Spirit swallowed all of them. So the girl’s family went to the one-buttocked Ant to ask for advice. The Ant told them: Cook one of the dogs at the crossroad, and the others will come back out. So that is what they did. They cooked the dog, and all of the others came back. The family called the dogs to attack the Evil Spirit and this time the dogs killed him. The small girl climbed down from the tree and when she returned to the village, her mother was very happy.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: we should persevere in our suffering as we will eventually receive our reward. Also: perseverance overcomes difficulties.

The Mambwe proverbs say: Things which make a cracking sound do not come by themselves (Akalila totwa, kasiileta);One finally manages to eat gristle by chewing hard on it(Cikutukutu ca kulya, nu kutintilila). English equivalent: He that will not work, shall not eat/will want; He that would eat the fruit must climb the tree; if you won’t work you shan’t eat; no bees, no honey: no work, no money; no gains without pains; no pains, no gains; no pleasure without pain; no rose without a thorn; no song, no supper; no sweet without some bitter; no sweet without (some) sweat; nothing to be got without pain; perseverance performs greater works than strength; roasted chicken do not fly to one’s mouth; you think that larks will fall into one’s mouth ready roasted.

Subjects: perseverance – sufferings – reward – temptation – resistance


Written by Justin Sicinsambwe, 29th of September 1994.