The Youngster, Mwila, Disregards His Father’s Lessons

Here is a story:

There once was an enormous village where people lived and there was a man who lived in the village named Lugango. Lugango lived with his wife and his one son. One day, Lugango bought a stool to sit on. It was a stool with three legs carved in the same manner as we used to do. This old man warned his wife and son not to take the stool out when he is not home. He said: If I find out that you took the stool out I will kill you with a spear. And so the stool stayed hidden in the house most of the day. But the strange thing was that whenever Lugango went anywhere, when he returned home the stool would go outside and greet him by dancing. When the stool finished greeting him it would go back into the house and stay where it used to stay.

Lugango’s son used to do this: when his father left the house, he would bring his friends over to the house to play with him. The friends tried to persuade him to take the stool out, but he said: You are all going to get me in trouble with my father. His friends turned out to be very persuasive and so he took his father’s stool out and immediately when they sang the song the stool started to dance and it danced and danced. The children loved it and Lugango’s son then put the stool away. When Lugango came home the stool went outside to greet him and then went back. But when Lugango wasn’t home, the children would always come to his house to play. When they arrived, they would persuade Lugango’s son to take the stool out so that it would dance.

One day as they were playing with the stool, they dropped it and it broke in half. When the children saw this, they ran home. Lugango’s son took the pieces of the stool in the house. When the wife of Lugango returned home from her work, she found the stool was broken. She became very distressed because she knew that her child would die that day. She told her child: You must run away to the bush now or your father will never forgive us. And so the boy, Mwila, ran off, not knowing exactly where to go. As he was running, his mother sang:

You Mwila – trot, trot,
You broke the little stool – trot, trot,
Which belong to Lugango – trot, trot,
cruel Lugango – trot, trot,
When he comes he won’t forgive us – trot away.

The child got tired, but as he heard his mother singing he kept running. Finally, he reached a massive-sized rock which was like a house and he entered into it and sat in the corner.

When the father returned from where he went and arrived at his house, he was surprised to find that the stool did not come out of the house to greet him. So Lugango began to sing hammer and thongs, a song that he used to sing when it danced, but it was no use: the stool did not come out of the house. Finally, he entered the house and found the stool broken. He asked his wife who broke the stool, and she said: I don’t know who has broken it. So, Lugango asked his wife where his son was and she said: I don’t know. Straight away, he knew that it was his son who did it. Not wasting any time, he sharpened his axe, took his spear, and followed his son. After a long march he found the massive sized rock where his son entered and went to the entrance. He looked inside and saw his child sitting on the floor. He pierced him in the belly with his spear and took him outside. When the child was dead, he left him in the bush and went home.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: Mwila died because he was tempted by his friends to ignore his father’s lessons. First of all be obedient to your parents and don’t let others dissuade you from doing what is right. Obedience is always good and disobedience may lead to misfortune. In our actions we should be led by set point of references, by the stable advice of elders rather than passing whim. The young men must rely on elders as they have more wisdom and experience. Thus, let us not run from (or disobey) our parents, because the disobedient child comes to grief. Sometimes in their pride people ask for trouble by not following advise or God’s commandments.

The Mambwe proverbs say: What fills up the small basket does not fill up the winnowing basket (Apakazuli citundu, pasizulu lupe); Where it was thatched (badly), it will keep on leaking (Na pavimbwe, apanyeke); People, like fish, follow the water (Antu inswi, zikalondela manzi); He who pays no attention to the advice of elders grows a beard on his back (Cintuvwa vya yakulu, wamelili vilezu kwitundu); The child who does not listen is taken by an earache by surprise (‘Mwana wamukana kuvwa, aliucilu mulembu mw’ikutwi); The servant is never above the master (Muomvi, atalusile pali sikulu wakwe); In fording a river, one calls upon someone who knows (Pilambwa, yakaama akumanyile). English equivalent: Better to ask the way than go astray; He that has a tongue in his head may find his way anywhere; He that will not be counselled, cannot be helped.

Subjects: disobedience – temptation – elders – advice- misfortune – God’s commandments – wisdom – experience


Written by Geoffrey Sinyangwe, 07th of September 1994.