The Mbilingwa Monster and the Lion

Here is a story:

There was once a monster named Mbilingwa who lived together with a Lion. This monster was a strange creation of God because it had one eye, one ear, half of a nose, one leg, one arm, and one part of his head. Both of them were good friends and they decided to live together. They said to each other: My friend, we live together, so we can then eat everything together. The Lion replied: Very well, my friend.

One day, the two of them, Mbilingwa and the Lion, went to the bush together to hunt and they killed a roan antelope. They then took the antelope home together. Then Mbilingwa said to the Lion: My friend, I am going to wash myself but you stay and start eating. When I come back, I want you to be full. The Lion replied: Of course, my friend, but when you come back and I am full, what are you going to do? Mbilingwa replied: When I come back, I will still find you eating because my way of eating is completely different from yours. The Lion said: With half a face, one eye and one finger – will you eat more than me? Mbilingwa replied: We will see. He went to wash himself, but when he came back he said: Didn’t I tell you: Eat a lot! How can you eat so little? The Lion was still chewing on one leg and didn’t eat much at all. Mbilingwa took it and opened his mouth and swallowed it all at once and said: You see! If you stay hungry, I will not bother. The Lion said: Is this what friendship is? Mbilingwa said: Don’t be angry, I said to you: ‘When I come back I want you to be full’, I told you: ‘Eat well’. They then went to sleep.

In the morning, they went to the bush and caught something a lot bigger than a roan antelope; they caught a buffalo. At the spot they were standing, Mbilingwa said to the Lion: This time, do not be lazy when you eat; eat with all of your strength before I come back. The Lion began to eat the rear part of the buffalo, and he started to gnaw it. He was gnawing the flesh until he was very full. Then he said: Maybe we can eat it also tomorrow. Mbilingwa came back and said: Is that all you can eat? The Lion said: He is big and fat, and I am full. Mbilingwa opened his mouth and swallowed the whole buffalo at once. Then the Lion said: That is not a way to act, you shouldn’t act that way. I am the one who hunts. I’m the one with claws and a big jaw. Tomorrow I will kill something big enough so I myself can eat well; it will last me the whole week. When Mbilingwa heard this, he said: These are your plans, that’s fine by me. Let me tell you something before you eat me; you provoked it so start running at once, right away. I am furious. You have made me very angry. The Lion said to himself: He swallows everything whole. Will he let me alone?

The Lion began to run away very quickly and left Mbilingwa with the rest of the food. The Lion went to the village called Cimula. With one step, Mbilingwa, made it all the way to the village and found the Lion. Mbilingwa said: Is this as far as you got? I told you: ‘run fast’. I am so angry that I will eat you just now. The Lion began a frantic sprint all the way to the Saise mountains, but Mbilingwa found him instantly and said: Is that a far as you can go? The Lion began to run as fast as he could and he made it to the place called Mbala. The Lion said to himself: This is very far; he will never find me now. Mbilingwa found the Lion and said: I’ve had enough. All you do has caused me trouble. All I want you to do is try harder; I’m going home. The Lion ran away swaying its tail until he reached the capital called Lusaka. He said: Here it is very far. Mbilingwa found the Lion listening to the radio and eventually Mbilingwa caught the Lion and took him.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: this is a lesson on death since everybody must die. On the day of our death we should not refuse it but we must just accept it. This goes to show that the power of God is greater than the will of man.

The Mambwe proverbs say: You corpse, you are smart but the undertakers have more authority than you (Cala wacenjela, azisi yakulusile);Everything that has seen the sun will die to the last (Consi icala caloli ndaka, icifwe citupu); The bird directs its head where it will fly to (Kuno cunyi citwazilu mutwe, kuli kwa upapucilo); Stones do not undertake that journey, people do (Kusyaya mawe, antu akaya kweneko); The world is like a bone, they just gnaw it (Mpanga ifupa, yakakolokota kweneko sile); An arrow stays in the air only for a short time as its home is on the ground (Muvwi ukalenjela sile ukupela, apa mwao apansi); The rain, even if slow in coming, has its home on the ground (Mvula nantu zimbe, apansi pako); The year which has not yet come (which does not belong to you), you can’t jump over it (can’t be jumped over)(Mwaka usi wako, usitampukwa);You who are dead, rejoice – there is no permanent resident in this world (Wa kuzimu cinanga, munonsi musi wikazi (orwikalo)). English equivalent: “A man’s destiny is always dark”; “Death defies the doctor”; “Death devours lambs as well as sheep”; “Death is the great leveller”; “Death is sure to all”; “Death takes all”; “Every door may be shut but death’s door”; “Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweeps, come to dust”; “There is a remedy for everything except death”.

Subjects: death – inevitability – God Almighty – human power


Told by Bernard Kungula from Kapufi village (recorded).