The King’s Commands and Reward

Here is a story:

There was a king who lived in a tremendous palace. This king cared for his people very well. He had his own hunters who hunted animals for him. One day, he sent them to hunt in the bush and that day the hunters killed many animals. Then they gathered the animals in one place and returned to the village to inform their king and tell him that they had killed many animals. The king sent his messengers to the village to announce to the people to gather in the palace. When they all gathered in the palace, the king told them to go to the bush and bring the meat of the animals killed by hunters.

The people went and carried the game-meat of the killed animals back to the village and brought it to the palace. When they got back to the palace, the king said: You have done well, my people. Now go back home and rest. The king didn’t give them a single piece of meat. It surprised the people because they imagined the king would give them some meat to eat along with mush in their houses.

The next day, the king sent his hunters to the bush to hunt and once again they killed many animals and returned to the king, telling him to send some people to carry the animals. The king did as before and ordered his messengers to summon the people. So, when the people came to the palace, the king told them to go and bring the meat to him. Again they all went off and brought the meat to the palace. When they came back the king once again sent them back home without giving them any meat.

On the third day, the king did the same as he had done before and he sent hunters to hunt in the bush. They had killed more animals than they had any other day so far. The king did the same as before, sending his messengers to summon the people. When they gathered, the king told them the same as before: that they should all go and bring the game meat to him. They all replied: Of course, Lord, we will go and bring the meat to you. Many of the people decided to return home secretly. A few went to carry the meat. Some carried as much as they could and some took little, knowing that even if they took as much as possible they would get nothing in return. Others only took the bones.

When the people reached the palace, the king told them to take what they carried home with them because it was a payment for all of the work they had done the days before. Those who brought a little bit of meat and those that only brought bones started to laugh at themselves. They said to each other: If only we brought more of the meat! If we had done so we would have a lot to eat just like those who carried enormous amounts of food. Those that brought lots of food felt very happy for the meat they received was a prize.

Life is the same when it comes to being rewarded for our work. Those who work hard get a reward equally substantial to the work they put in. Those who don’t work hard don’t get much in life for turning down hard work.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: sooner or later we shall all reap the rewards for our work. Those who work hard shall receive their just reward, whereas the lazy ones will be turned away with nothing. No remuneration without work; you get nothing without trying; if you want to get something, you must move yourself.

The Mambwe proverbs say: The bush rewards the one who tramples it (travels in it)(Londe, akapela akamulyata nanti akamupita mwenemo). 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; Roasted chicken do not fly to one’s mouth; You think that larks will fall into one’s mouth ready roasted.

Subjects: hard work – reward – remuneration – laziness


Written by Geoffrey Sinyangwe, 07th of September 1994. Cf. in second version 50 (The Royal Call) by Daniel England.