The Older Brother who Doesn’t Share His Quail with His Sister

Here is a story:

There were many inhabitants in a village called Kalinda. One of the inhabitants was a man who lived just outside the village with his wife. They had two children: a son and a daughter. They were living all alone in a village under construction, and one day when the man died the kids were left with just their mother. A few days later the mother also died and the children were left behind to fend for themselves in this new settlement. What poverty and suffering!

One of these two children, the young boy, started hunting for quail, and the girl would cook a sour spinach called nkwila. One day, the young boy killed a quail and then cooked it at the same time the girl prepared the spinach from nkwila. After they prepared the mush to eat along with the meat, she then went to her brother and said: Please, allow me to eat some of your quail with you. The boy forbade her and immediately the girl broke down and started crying. She said to her brother: If you forbid me to eat the quail, the next time you do so I will go where our father and mother are.

Then, on another day, she said: Let me dip a ball of mush in the relish of quail, and once again he forbade his sister from touching it. This hurt his sister’s heart very much and she simply flew away like an angel to her mother and father. The people used to say (a proverb): When you refused to give water to a small chick, it went around the courtyard and drank it anyhow (said by one who refused to give something to somebody, but later finds that this person was given it anyway).

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: greed and meanness help nobody and may even lead us to conflict. We should remember that those we refuse will just find a different way of getting what they want.

The Mambwe proverbs say: You refused to give water to a small chick so it went around the courtyard and drank nevertheless (Kwima kakoko manzi, kalila musolo kamwa).

Subjects: futility – refusal – greed – meanness – conflicts


Written by Geoffrey Sinyangwe, 07th of September 1994.