The Two Women: the Good and the Bad One

Here is a story:

There was once a man that married two women. The first wife gave birth to a daughter named Pungu. The second wife had a daughter which she also named Pungu. The man said to his wives: Prepare some flour for me because I am going in search of work. And they did so. They accompanied him half of the way, and then he continued on alone.

One day, the first wife said to the second wife: Let’s go and fetch some fire wood. When they got to the heavy growth of the bush, the first wife grabbed a big stick and hit the second wife on the head, killing her, and then she returned to the village.

That wife took along the daughter of the one she had just killed and told her: Go to the river. But before she sent the girl, she had dug a deep hole which she had covered with a mat. She said to the girl: Take this container over there. The orphan went there and fell into the hole, breaking her bones. The one who still had her mother asked after her when she returned from the river: Mother, where is Pungu? Her mother told her: Pungu has followed her mother. Early in the morning, the mother went to work, and her daughter took some millet and began to sing:

Pungu, you Pungu, go and see, your father, your father,
he is back, he is back from Impwanyi [1];
Oh Pungu, go and put on, put on bracelets.

And the one in the hole answered:

It was your mother with partiality who took my mother and hit her with big stick,
She dug a game pit and said: ‘Pungu take this’, and I fell and broke my bones;
There is an enormous mountain which separate us from the smokers of hemp, Pungu.

Finally, the father came back and asked the girl: Where is your sister from the other house? The girl replied: Father, Pungu is in a hole where she is singing and she pointed to the place. The father began to dig and found his daughter down in the pit. He took her out of the pit and hid her in the house where the first wife lived. He then gave her some mush so she would recover.

One day, he gathered some people together and they proved without a doubt that the first killed the second wife and tried to kill her daughter. Then the father took a spear and stabbed her with it and she died.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: a person’s goodness comes out from his heart, not outward appearance. Honesty, wisdom or goodness cannot be recognised by somebody’s appearance, age or sex. Do not judge people by their appearance, a quiet person may turn out to be quite dangerous.

The Mambwe proverbs say: Important people haven’t got big feet (Amalumba, yasikula ngazo); An abdomen (belly) which ate a guinea fowl does not shine (Inda ilili kanga, isyawalala; Inda ilili kanga, isyaengesa);A very quiet looking hen sucks eggs (Nkoko mbundumale, ikapwila mayai). 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”; “Never judge a book by its cover”; “Never judge from appearances”; “A ragged coat may cover an honest man”; “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”.

Subjects: appearances – judging – honesty – wisdom – goodness – good deeds


[1] Impwanyi, it is Indian Ocean and as well Tanzania.


Written by an unknown author.