The Ghost on Earth

Here is a story:

There was a Ghost that came into the world, and this Ghost began to devour animals. He would eat everything that came into sight. In the end, the Ghost had eaten everything, including all humans; all that was left was Cangala and his three children. Cangala said: So what can we do, we’re all going to die; extinction is before us! To save his children, Cangala took them away. He took them to the termite hill in the very thickly overgrown jungle. When he arrived, he found a great hole and dug it even further, sculpting it so he could put his children inside. He said: Lie down there. He left them, saying: I am going to look for a way to save us all. Then he went off and left his children alone.

After two days had passed, the Ghost found the children in hiding from tracking their footprints. He then asked the children: Where has your father gone? The children replied: He went to forge a huge spear. The Ghost then asked: When will he return? The children answered: He will return when he has annihilated the Ghost. The Ghost asked: And what did the Ghost do to him? The children replied: It is going to eat his children. The Ghost said: Let me in and give me something to eat. The Children replied: Come in and help yourself. The Ghost came in, grabbed one of the children, ate the child, and left.

That evening, the father returned and found the footprints of the Ghost and said: The children will be finished. He did not say anything to his children. He went over to a big tree and climbed it and after he had climbed he was satisfied that he could hear their breathing. In the early morning, the Ghost returned and asked the children: Where is your father? The children replied: He went to forge a huge spear so he can kill the hyena. The Ghost asked: And what did he do to it? As the Ghost was going into the children’s hiding place, the father shot a dart at the Ghost. The Ghost said: Oh, a horse fly has bit me. Again, the Ghost said: I’m coming inside, and once again the father shot a dart at a different place. Then the Ghost shook his head and said: No, that is not a horse fly! It was a spear (often used by hunters when killing moles and fish). The Ghost fell to the ground and died.

Then Cangala climbed down the tree and found his two children that were hidden in the termite hole. Then he said to them: Go out, my children! The creature responsible for your mother’s death and the death of everything else is the creature before you. I have slain it. Then they said: Let’s try to cut the Ghost up into little pieces. Then they all said: Let’s cut it up together. As they were beginning to cut the Ghost, they heard a man bellow: Ouch! You are cutting me! So they cut at a different part of the Ghost and heard a chicken: Ouch! You are cutting me! Then they began to ask each other: What are we going to do? They said: Let’s go and ask the one-buttocked Ant to consult the spirits. The Ant said: Heat an axe in a fire until it turns red and scorch the Ghost on the backside. And so that’s what they did. When this happened, all of the animals, people, and birds the Ghost had devoured poured out of his insides. Then an old woman came out and said: I forgot my tobacco container; it is still inside of the Ghost. I will return and get it. As she re-entered to the Ghost, his body closed up and no matter what they did they couldn’t get it open again. The Ghost’s body had become as hard as stone from the mountains.

Then all who had been swallowed by the Ghost asked each other: Who has saved us? They said: It was Cangala. And then they all decided: For that, he will become our great king. He was the one who received the kingship.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: we should respect those in power as they are yielding it by God’s decree.

The Mambwe proverbs say: You should not climb up a high tree by the leaves (Muti ukulu, yasyaukwelelu ku mafwa).

Subjects: elders – respect – power – God’s decree


Written by Kleto Kaputu, 30th August 1994.