The Monkey: The Wife of ‘God’

Here is a story:

There was a great village and in this village there lived a rich king. The Monkeys noticed the famine in the land was getting worse and many animals in the bush all around were dying. One Monkey thought to itself: Tomorrow I will have to tell all of the Monkeys who live in the mountains and river groves to come and discuss the worsening famine thoroughly.

Early in the morning, the Monkey spread the word everywhere. On the third day the Monkeys living in the mountains and river groves met on the hill; they were so numerous that they covered every available place. The oldest Monkey stood up and said: Good day to you all, Monkeys who live in the mountains and river groves! All of the Monkeys clapped and bowed to each other. He continued: I think some of you must know the reason why we are here today. As long as you have lived here in this country, have you ever seen such a gathering as we have today? Since this famine has fallen upon us, what can we do? They all replied: This famine is so bad that if it gets any worse, we will all die! The oldest Monkey said: Couldn’t we do this? Let us find a female Monkey and cut off her tail which will stay here, and then marry her off to the king who has a great harvest? In this way we will be saved. If we become famished, then we can go and get something to eat from him. If we survive, then we can go and get her back. All of the other Monkeys agreed: To have an elder is a very good thing. They began to sing:

Elders are good, who is bad: it’s me!

They found a female Monkey and cut off her tail. Then she sat in the middle of the road. Some people found her and believing her to be lost, took her along to the king. The king decided: I will marry her. She became the king’s wife and began to cultivate crops. Her fellow Monkeys would come and eat, and she did not forbid them.

The girl became very used to this way of life and her fellow Monkeys ate very well indeed. After a few years passed, she forgot who she was and said to herself: I am not a Monkey. She began to hate all the other Monkeys. She would chase them out of her house and would say: Elele, you Monkeys are very stupid, and you have a very bad habit. You are stupid because you are pushing me too much and in the end you will finish all my food. That day, the other Monkeys were so hungry that they could not even find any finger millet to eat and so they went to sleep with empty stomachs.

The next morning, when it was bright, the king’s wife went to the field and she noticed that none of the Monkeys had yet woken up. When they did wake up, they found she was already there; so they had no chance to eat any of the finger millet. The king’s wife was very cruel and her fellow Monkeys were greatly surprised. They went back to the mountains and said: Don’t you see what that Monkey is doing? We helped her and she has betrayed us. This made all of the other Monkeys very angry because it hurt them all very much. One after the other, they got up and told everyone else what he noticed about the king’s wife. The last Monkey said: I have to admit that she is very stupid. We should go to the village and give her back her tail because she wants us to die of hunger, doesn’t she? They all agreed.

They all went to the village in an Indian file, and then they divided into three lines and began to sing:

Monkey wife of god, we have brought your tail,
You cultivated and run away, we have brought your tail,
Finally it hurts us, we have brought your tail.

When the people heard what the Monkeys were singing, they welcomed them with shrill cries of acclamation yelling: nalya, lya, lya. The Monkeys came to the gates of the village and sang again:

Monkey wife of god, we have brought your tail,
You cultivated and run away, we have brought your tail,
Finally it hurts us, we have brought your tail.

The king’s wife saw that they were coming in her direction and noticed the people were listening to what the Monkeys were singing. The king’s wife was in the courtyard preparing the mush when she remembered: I am a Monkey! The Monkeys came up to her and hit her with the tail which made her a Monkey again. Then they took her away. The king was flabbergasted while the people of the village said: The king married a Monkey!

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: one should be very careful when choosing a bride because she might be like a monkey, not taking care of the new family, but of others. The other thing is: in the Christian marriage the husband and wife should have the same rights, being equal in the eyes of God. Also after marriage a person should not despise his own relatives.

The Mambwe proverbs say: He who marries into a poor house must work hard (Lumbwe ukutwalila mwa mulanda, ukuicicilizya).

Subjects: bride – choice – prudence – despise – relatives – equality – husband and wife – impartiality – in-laws – marriage – rights


Written by an unknown author.