The Three Young Men who Went to Kenya

Here is a story:

There once were a mother and a father who had three sons, and the oldest one went for a walk in the bush telling his brothers: Brothers, I am going to the bush to get honey for mother and father so they may eat. He went to a certain village and took out some honey from a beehive, and then he went on further to another village where he got engaged to a certain girl. When he returned home, he told no one.

The brother who was younger than the oldest said: Our brother went to get some honey but he didn’t bring anything back for us; therefore, I will go myself this time. When he left, the honey bird called him to a village and there he found a girl to whom he became engaged. He returned and told no one anything. The youngest said: Where are my older brothers going? The two answered: We went and looked for honey but could not find any. The youngest one said: Let me go myself! I will go in the same direction! Then the honey bird called him to the same village as the older ones. He saw a girl and got engaged. He returned home and they said: Bring us the honey! He replied: Since you two went but brought none back, I, too, could not find any.

In the morning the oldest brother said: My brothers! When I went looking for honey, and I met a girl instead and got engaged. The one that was younger than him said: I, too, got engaged in a village – the same one. The youngest one said the same. When one said: I got engaged to an older woman, the other said the same: I got engaged to an older woman. Let’s go and tell our father: ‘Father we are grown, and we have all got engaged. Now we want to find work’. The father replied: O.K. But, it would be good if the three of you went together and helped each other out in this work.

They took some flour and went to Kenya. There they worked and worked. They finished their work in two months, each one of them receiving a salary of 700 Kwaca: the first 700 Kwaca and the second 700 Kwaca and the other 700 Kwaca as well. They put the money on the table and the oldest one said: My brothers, I am going to buy an airplane. Do you understand me? They replied: Yes, of course. The one that was younger than him said: I am going to buy a television so that I may see everywhere and also see our home – simply everywhere. And they answered: O.K.! The youngest one said: I will buy medicine that will cure me of any sickness immediately.

Truly, they spent all of their money on the things they said they would buy. The one that bought the television said: Let us see how our mother is! Then he said: You see, our mother is grinding flour and our grandfather and father are carving the handle of an axe. Then he said: My brothers, I have seen what our father and mother are doing. So let’s see what is going on in my fiancées village. He saw that she was sick and there was only five minutes. Five minutes to what? – to die. Then he said: My brothers! The girl I am engaged to is really sick. Please come and look! They all looked and they all said: That is my fiancée; that is my fiancée. None of us knew that we got engaged to the same woman. Let’s go! They said: You who saw this, go! He answered: How can I go since it is so far? How can I arrive there quickly enough and to not to find her dead?

Look how far it is from Kenya to Lusaka. The brothers said: You with the airplane, take us there. And he said: Of course, let me help you! They all entered the airplane, even the one with the medicine. The plane made a luku luku sound and before they knew it, they were home with their parents. Each of them explained to his parents saying: I have earned this. One of them said: I have earned this, but father and my mother, we did not tell you about the girl to whom we got engaged. It is the same girl. And the girl we are engaged to is going to die in three minutes. The youngest said: Allow me to run and find her. They said: How can you run there if there are only three minutes left – will you find her still alive? The one with the airplane said: I will take you there. They got into the airplane, and in a flight that took one second they travelled a great distance. They reached the place. When they arrived, everyone in the village was sitting. The one who decided to go, sat, and said to himself: Oh dear! What kind of a sickness is it? And the owner of the airplane also said: Oh dear! What kind of a sickness is it? The youngest brother took his medicine and gave it to their lady and she recovered immediately.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: the story is a riddle. Who was truly engaged to this lady? Or whose wife was she? In fact nobody was engaged to her because they were equally important and all had the same right to her. So they brought the lady and gave her to their father and said: From now on we will call you mother. This story teaches us that we should leave all things in God’s hands as He is the one who knows us and is capable of doing things we cannot do.

The Mambwe proverbs say: When you dig for a small remedy (root), you must mix it with God (God’s power)(Kwimba kalembo(nantikati), kusanzya na Leza); God is the Cutter, He made the wasp slim without cutting (it in half)(Lez’Umucetozi, wacetoli londa pakasi nga lyaputwike); God is totally independent, only His spirit knows itself (Leza a ntumba nambo, mwenzo kaimanyile); God is a blacksmith, He does not forge for just one person (Leza umusuzi, asisulila wenga); God does not forget any living being (that stands) (Leza, asyailila icimilile); The day when God is going to give you a meal is unknown (Wanda uno Leza akukwimula, usimanyikwa). English equivalent: “God helps those that help themselves”; “Heaven helps those who help themselves”.

Subjects: Divine Providence – trusting God


Told by Bernard Kungula from Kapufi village (recorded).