Here is a story:
There once was a village where a great number of people lived together and in this village there was a man who had a revolting girl as a daughter. The parents of this girl were named Simwaka and Namwaka; therefore, the girl’s name, was Mwaka. It was not very obvious if it was a boy or a girl.
After a certain time a boy appeared named Kamwitwi (dust boy). This was his name because when he was a little child his grandmother washed him on a pile of garbage.
This boy, Kamwitwi, went to look for a girl he could marry. He arrived at the village where Icingulungulu, a revolting monster lived. In the evening, he met a group of girls and the revolting girl was there too. The young man began to talk to a girl named Mulenga, but she refused to marry him. So the young man thought he would talk to the repulsive looking girl. He noticed that she shook her head in order to show that she agreed. At this time all the girls knew that she was a girl.
Kamwitwi (the young man) came back home and decided to talk to his parents. They asked him: Whom did you get engaged to? He replied: I don’t know the family name or the clan name because I’m engaged to that monster. The parents became very angry and they wondered if this girl was capable of doing any work because this was the time when Livingstone potatoes were harvested.
The parents of the young boy came to know the parents of the repulsive girl. Since there was no one on this side of the village that give birth to such a monster, they were not hard to find. Finally, the time of the marriage between the girl and the boy was at hand. There were many people at their wedding. All of the people were there until the groom was brought out. In the morning, the bride and groom were taught about married life. The mother-in-law of the bridegroom talked a lot about laziness, and the bride nodded continually to show she understood everything.
The young man began to live with this monster. She worked very hard and did everything her mother-in-law had told her to do very well. When it came to gathering, planting, and working the Livingstone potato fields, she was a marvellous worker.
On her way to work, the monster began to transform into a beautiful woman: she had a white, light complexion, was tall, and even had wonderful teeth when she smiled, she had a neck like a crested Crane.
She would go to work and would dig gladly. Finally, she began working on the same field as her mother-in-law. One day, they realised their Livingstone potato plantation was getting bigger and bigger, yet they had no idea why. It turned out that it was the girl who worked on expanding the field the whole time.
One day, the mother-in-law hid in the field and saw the monster change into the beautiful girl and stayed hidden to see what she would do. She saw the shell of the monster split in two and fall away and a beautiful girl come out of it. Then the girl began to dig in the Livingstone potato field and sing a song that the mother-in-law had heard before but did not understand. It was a song that warned the mother-in-law not to accuse the girl of being lazy.
When the mother-in-law saw the girl in her true form, she became ecstatic and quite joyful to see this girl, the wife of Kamwitwi. She kept hiding until the girl got tired and stopped working and then crawled back into herself and hid.
The monster returned to the village unaware of what had happened. The mother-in-law was following her and thought to herself: My son has certainly found himself a proper bride.
In the evening, the mother-in-law told her husband about the details of her discovery. After he heard the story, he did not believe that their son married a girl who was really beautiful. So he, together with his wife, went and hid in the field to watch her. The father-in-law understood the song of the girl. They were so happy that when she got tired and stopped working and before she went back in to hide they ran fast and held her and wouldn’t let her go. Then they took her back to the village.
In the village, everyone was ecstatic to see such a beautiful girl and they all said: The heart gets what it yearns the most.
And that is the end of our story.
The moral of the story: (1) don’t judge by appearances. Honesty, wisdom or goodness cannot be recognised by somebody’s appearance, age or sex; (2) an earnest heart will get its reward, even when others maintain you are good for nothing.
The Mambwe proverbs say: (1) An abdomen (belly) which ate a guinea fowl does not shine (Inda ilili kanga, isyawalala; Inda ilili kanga, isyaengesa); Beauty is like a thin, uncooked gruel (Usuma, uli munya); Beauty is in the calabash (Usuma, uli nu ku nkolo); Important people haven’t got big feet(Amalumba, yasikula ngazo).English equivalent: “All that glitters is not gold”; “Appearances are deceptive/deceitful/deceiving”; “Beauty is but/only skin-deep”; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; “Beauty will buy no beef”; “Never judge a book by its cover”; “Never judge from appearances”; “Things are not always what they seem”; “You cannot judge of a tree by its bark”; “You can’t tell a book by its cover”. (2) What you eat is what you wouldn’t leave even if beaten (Kano walya, intimbwa nako).
Subjects: appearances – judging – wisdom – honesty – goodness – diligence – reward – underestimating – dangers
Written by Abraham Cisawawa, 07th of September 1994.