The King and His Child

Here is a story:

There once was a large village which was ruled by a king who had a very beautiful daughter. The king said: Whoever wants to marry my daughter must go and take some honey out of a hollow tree for me. One day, a young man named Sicikatya came from another village and said: I have heard that there is a very beautiful girl here whose father has said: ‘Whoever wants to marry my daughter must go and take some honey out of a hollow tree for me’.

A man called Sicuma [1] said: Yes, that is what was said.Then, the people said to Sicikatya: Please do come and try tomorrow! Very early the next morning, the boy arrived. Seeing him, Sicuma said: Are you not afraid of bees? The young man said: I am not afraid of bees because I am an expert in collecting honey. So I am off! The two of them went off together in search of bees. When they finally found them, they began to cut the tree in order to get to the honey. The young man saw the honey and said: I have to go and get some tree bark (to put the honey in). The father-in-law said: Hurry up, cut a piece of bark from the trunk of the tree because I have a craving to eat honey now! Immediately, the future son-in-law went to fetch the tree bark which he got from the tree trunk. They did this every day for six days. The young man was afraid because he thought his father-in-law was just playing a painful game with him.

The boy went back to his father and told him what the future father-in-law was doing to him. His father gave him some magic medicine and said to him: When you are going to get some honey choose a tree where the honey is at the top of it. Plunge the spear into the ground under the tree you are going to climb and then when you climb a little bit fall down on the spear and yell out: I am going to die, who can save me? The young man did as he was told. When he climbed to get the honey he fell on the spear which pierced him. When his father-in-law said: I will pull it out, the young man said to him: No, you will just kill me. Go to the village and tell the people to come here so they may pull out the spear. The father-in-law ran to the village very quickly. When he arrived at the house he was surprised to find the boy, Sicikatya, sitting in the meeting house. The father-in-law was completely bewildered and said: So you’re here? He answered: Yes Sir! The father-in-law said: I will go back to the bush and get my spear back. He quickly went back and saw the young man on the spear and was again bewildered. The young man said to the father-in-law: Where are the people I asked you to get? And again he returned to the village and found the boy and said: You are causing me nothing but trouble and I am tired of it.

In the morning, the father-in-law denounced the boy to the court for causing him nothing but trouble. When judgement day arrived, they explained what had happened. They laughed at the father-in-law because he was the one who initially started to treat the boy badly. There is an old saying: The first offense doesn’t cause a cry, the last one does [2].

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: do not overdo it in abusing the patience of others as it can eventually turn against you and you will be the one who will be most sorry.

The Mambwe proverbs say: The first (offence) does not cause a cry, the next makes (somebody) cry (Aka nkolelo, kasilizya; aka kusyalicizya, kakalizya; Kamukolele kasilizya, akakasyalicizya kakalizya). English equivalent: Every dog is allowed one bite.

Subjects: abusing – patience – in-laws – oppress


[1] The name Sicuma (the king) means the father of wealth. For Sicikatya he was his future father-in-law.
[2] The proverb means that treating someone badly will be, in the end, severely punished.


Written by Emmanuel Mwasama, Cikunta 4th of April 1984.