There Once Was A King

Here is a story:

There once was a village and in this village all the people belonged to one family. These people lived very well and always helped each other when it came to doing work, of which there was plenty. One day, a person came from the Kalale region. This very remarkable man with rich and beautiful attire went to the headman to get permission to live with them in his village. The headman agreed to have him live in the village, but he stressed certain points to him and said: Friend, (remember), in this village we all live and work together like a family without distinguishing or making anyone more important than anyone else. The man from Kalale lived together with them from then on.

One day, they went bird hunting (setting a bird snare with sticky gum) and killed many. When they returned, all the people filled up their leather bags with the birds they had killed. When evening came and it was time to eat, the man told his wife not to take out all of the birds but to remove only a few. The others gave many, many birds. When they were eating in the open rest-hut, everybody put in their earthenware pots. They were astounded to find that the relish was very little in one pot even though they had killed so many birds. But soon they pretended to forget about it, even though they were very distraught inside. The man always did the same whenever he was lucky to find something delicious to eat.

Finally, one day they had had enough and began to talk about it. They asked the headman and he gathered the people so they could tell him off. The handsome man told the truth: When I came to this village to work with all of you, my wife was never late in preparing mush in the open rest-hut. I have never refused to do any work. Today, you all talk of food. Did you, headman, say anything about food to me since I came here? He explained about the behaviour of the people in Kalale and in the village. All of them agreed with his explanation. Many of the villagers became angry with the headman for not telling the man about their way of life. They were so angry that they chose a new headman.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: in community life it is imperative to invite one another to share meals. We thus show love to one another and this is what God requires of us. We should remember that help comes from those you eat with.

The Mambwe proverbs say: The abdomen twitches where you eat (Indilwa ikaticila, kuno ukalya); The abdomen twitches where it eats (Inda ikaticila, kuno ikalya); The small stomach twitches where it eats (Kanda kakaticila, kuno kakalya). English equivalent: Bread offered binds people together; A friend in need is a friend indeed; A friend is never known till a man has need.

Subjects: community – sharing meals – helping each other – friendship – love each other – God’s commandments


Written by Stanislaus Sinyangwe, 07th of September 1994.