The Father-in-law who Wanted to Build a Temporary Hut to Take Back His Child

Here is a story:

A certain man married a girl he loved very much. The father-in-law said: Let’s go and take back our child from our son-in-law because we do not like him. In order to take her back, I will give him a very difficult job to do. If he fails, we will take back our child from him saying: ‘You failed to do the work we asked of you’.

They sent him to build a temporary hut which was to be located between two identical farms where there was a large rock, and they told him: This is where you will build for us. The son-in-law went off to build the temporary hut, and when he sharpened the poles he said: I will fix a pole into the ground, but it broke. Finally, he called his wife and said: Let us see if you can fix it into the ground. She tried to fix it, but it broke. As she failed, he said to her: Go and call your mother so she may pour water over this rock and make it soft, so the poles can be fixed into the ground. The wife went and called everyone: her mother, her brothers, and her father. When they came, they noticed the son-in-law had weaved a basket which could be used for carrying chickens. Then he said: Go and get some water in this. When they tried to collect water in the basket, all of the water spilled out. It continued like this all day long.

Eventually, they got tired and the mother said: Husband, let him live with our daughter because he is much cleverer than we are. So they said: You, our son-in-law, we failed to do our job, but you did not. Hearing that, the married man rejoiced very much and was happy that his suffering was over. The man lived together with his wife in peace and happiness.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) we must not try others and make their lives miserable; (2) parents-in-law should keep out of their children’s marriages; the in-laws must respect each other.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (2) A (cow of the) in-laws eats stooping (Ya ukwi, ikalya iinime).

Subjects: abusing – patience – in-laws – oppress – marriage – meddling up


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