Why the Grasshoppers Yambala and Yongolo Never Got their Wings

Here is a story:

There was a king who ruled a country and this country was made up of grasshoppers who had no wings. The king then thought: What can I do so that they can function normally? He sent one of his people to the bush, telling him: Go to the bush and tell all the grasshoppers in this country that I require them all to come to my palace. The person went off into the bush and did as he was told and said to all of the grasshoppers: You grasshoppers you are wanted at the palace. They replied: How are we supposed to go to the palace if we have no wings? The man replied: You can hop there. And the grasshoppers went hopping and eventually they arrived.

The only grasshoppers that stayed behind were Yambala, Yongolo and a Red Locust, and the three of them sat together drinking beer. The Red Locust said to Yambala and Yongolo: The king wants us all to go to the palace. Your excellencies, are you two going? They said: Oh well! Go away! We will come later.

The Red Locust began its journey and along the way it met some other grasshoppers while Yambala and Yongolo stayed behind. When the grasshoppers all gathered at the palace, the king told them: You grasshoppers, I feel really sorry for you as you have no wings. I have decided to give you wings and you will be able to fly. If you can only hop, what are you going to eat? The only way to find food is to fly very far. At that moment, the grasshoppers were all bestowed with wings. The Red Locust, although a little late, was also bestowed with wings because it did what it was told – and they began to fly.

Yongolo and Yambala stayed behind drinking beer, so they forgot that somebody came and told them to go and get wings. Afterwards the king told all the grasshoppers: Fly and go back. All the grasshoppers made a noise: ntililili, and flew away, going in different directions and came back home.

Yambala and Yongolo stayed where they had been before and drank. Finally, they noticed that the Red Locust had returned flying around them and landing nearby. They asked him: What is it? You boy, what has happened, weren’t we always with you? He answered: You did not go even though they summoned us saying: come to the palace. You knew this as you answered to the one who called you: ‘We will come later’. I have just come back from this place and they gave me wings with which I can fly. They said: Really? The Red Locust said: Yes, watch me fly. And they watched the Red Locust fly. So they decided: We also will go there to get some wings. They then went to the king. The king said: I’m sorry, but the time of bestowing wings is over and all of the wings are gone. The two of you will hop just as you have chosen. Simply go back.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) the story holds true to the words of Jesus Christ who said: Do not strive for worldly things because they will distract from obeying the Word of God which gives eternal life; (2) do not let good things interfere with your welfare. Do not let pleasure interfere with safety; (3) laziness does not pay off, it brings hunger; (4) do not be idle, or you will miss your chance for ever. Prepare yourself for hardships.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (2) (The one who said:) “let me suck to the very end,” was caught; the one who said: “it is always sweet,” went away (Kamfipilile yamulemile, visisila kulyompa wapisile);(The one who said:) “let-me-lick-the-plate,” was caught (Kankombesezye yamulemile, visisila kulyompa wapisile); The one who said: “it is always sweet,” went away; The one who drinks to the end, they caught him (Kankuulula, yamulemile). English equivalent: Eat at pleasure, drink with measure; Feed by measure and defy the physician; (3) Laziness does not make one eat dainty food (Ukasu, usilisya kasuma). English equivalent: Doing nothing is doing ill; He that will not work, shall not eat/will want; He that would eat the fruit must climb the tree; An idle brain is the devil’s workshop; Idleness is the mother/root of all evil/sin; If you won’t work you shan’t eat; No bees, no honey: no work, no money; No gains without pains; No pains, no gains; No pleasure without pain; No rose without a thorn; No song, no supper; No sweet without some bitter; No sweet without (some) sweat; Nothing to be got without pain; Roasted chicken do not fly to one’s mouth; You think that larks will fall into one’s mouth ready roasted; (4) You child, you have let things go, but in time (when too late) your brains will catch up with you (Mwana wa muleka vipita, nga malango yamuzana). English equivalent: Fortune favours those who use their judgement; Fortune is good to him who knows how to make good use of it; Fortune knocks once at everyone’s door/gate; He who will not when he may, when he will he shall have nay; He that will not when he may, when he will he shall have nay; Hold fast when you have it; The mill cannot grind with the water that is past; Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today; Take occasion/opportunity by the forelock; Time marches on, waiting for no man; Time rolls on, waiting for no man; Time lost cannot be recalled/recovered/regained; Things past cannot be recalled; What’s learnt in the cradle lasts till the tomb.

Subjects: idleness – dangers – laziness – hunger – pleasure – welfare – preparation – hardships


Told by Makrina Mpande from Vimbuli village (recorded).