Born of Silence

by Mazuba Mwiinga

“….very soon she will have a baby girl.
You will divorce your sister and marry your daughter.
Your son will give your daughter a child and you will kill your son;
but strangers will suffer for the death of your son
and you will Scot freely go off the murder case……”

This is the main triumphs of this complex novel.
The claims come to appear neither meaningless nor arrogant.
What seems to be a straightforward seering
becomes an intricate puzzle that casts scales in Chinkuli’s eyes.
The scales only drop when it is too late.

Mazabuka Times newspaper

Published by; Zubie PR Media Solutions, Box 60628, Livingstone, Zambia. Email:

Copyright: 2008 Mazuba Mwiinga

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews and for the purpose of teaching and or learning.

Printed and bound in Zambia by Monze Printing Press; Health Help International, PO Box 660154, Monze, Zambia. Telephone: 021-3-250641 or 021-3-205845 Email:

So when the war came, he was glad and sorry,
But soon enlisted;
Then his mother cried a little and his father boasted how he’d let him go though needed for the farm……

So crown him with memorial bronze among the older dead,
Child of a mountainous island
Wings of a tarnished victory shadow him
Who born of silence, has burned back to silence.

James K. Baxter: ‘Elegy for an Unknown Soldier’

Chapter 1

It was just after midday on a Sunday. The sun was shooting its hot rays mercilessly over living things. Cicadas were screaming to death in bushes. Dogs never barked even when a strange figure crossed their eye sight for they lay shamelessly tired under cool shades of food barns and leafless trees. Cocks and hens crooked in their pens as doves were only heard by their proud murmurs up in nests. Boys sat aimlessly on stools in shelters, their chests as naked as a live wire. Old men were already snoring on their sack mats while women sat on their reed mats carelessly trying to allow any chance of cool air to find its way to their skin. It was such times when they cared less about the dressing manners of the village. From a near distance, goats were the only menace of the land. They blurted like a kid placed in hot water as they raced from one end of the village to the other seeking refuge from the burning mantle of the sun. The village at this point was as dead in life as when people receive bad news.
At this lonely hour, some man dared west ward following a beaten path. Had he met people on the way they would have wondered. He took after a jungle man. He was hideously fearful. His face was scratched so much that someone’s guess of having been battling with a wild beast would not have been argued much. The head wore deep cuts which exposed thick tissues of red flesh.
Staggering he walked on; all alone in an area that seemed not to have harbored man for along time. Rats ran away in amazement. Surely it was a wonder for them. For some time now, they lived along this path undisturbed. They might have asked “where is this creature going?” They couldn’t get a reply of-course; for he too seemed not to have known. He was a wanderer. Such purposeless walking-about had been his routine; at least for sometime now.
By his looks, he was deeply absorbed in confused thoughts. Relatives have aborted his mission. He hasn’t fulfilled his promise. What will his mother say when they meet in a village of no return? How will he explain all this? He shook his head in disgust. He just wanted to inquire about his sister; but to be awarded these death-signing scares. ‘Oh life thou shall not be so cruel to me’. He thought.
He walked on aimlessly, covering a distance he wouldn’t even calculate. What he only knew was that the sun was now bending towards the western dome and he hasn’t come across any village or home. The area was high, bushed and stony. May be he couldn’t just see the villages. Can a man so badly in a state of manner be able to recognize a stranger’s home? Not when the sun still promised life.
As he walked on, the thought of his friend Hachilongwe crossed his medulla. But alas, the only best and honest friend was dead. Soon may be they would meet again in the land where they sup grasshopper soup.
He was thirsty and hungry; but where was he to find water and food. It was like wishing to ride on a dead horse. The path was isolated; but still more it was better to rest with God at someone’s home than to be feasted on by rapacious carnivores.
As the sun showed its last streaks of light, he came to a wide opening. His heart missed two beats. He was terrified. His eyes could see the end of the world as it met with the falling sky at a distance. Yes, he had come to the end of the world. Soon he will see his mother and friend Hachilongwe. He stood irresolutely and examined the New World. It was spiritually silent and deadly in forlorn. Then he thought he saw a flicker of light at a distance. Then a strip of dark oiled smoke curled up strangely and vanished in mid air. ‘A ghost?’ he asked himself thoughtfully.
He couldn’t mind at this point he had come to. At twenty-five, he was a man or two and regarded ghosts as creatures to scare kids and women. He dare-devilry soldiered towards his discovery. ‘Where there is fire’, he thought, ‘there is life’. It took him an hour to arrive at the place. As he walked the distance horizon ran away from him too. So were flames of fire. But he never threw up the sponge on his attempted hopes. ‘Loss of hope is for women’, he thought. Hasn’t after all the adage Mulombwana Munyati – a man is a buffalo, meant for him?
As night covered the plain, waking up nocturnal creatures to life, he came to the source of the fire. It was in fact a home. Three huts built abreast each other. A big one presumably for the owners of the home stood in the northern side of the compound. A small one may be for children or visitors was erected in the afar south end. The one with poles as a wall completed the file in the middle. It served as a cooking place. An aluminum pot was placed over fire when the visitor arrived; a tall slander woman squat on a mat beside the heath. He walked in the yard and announced his presence.
“Hodi!” The woman peered in the mirages of the night towards the man. Having not recognized him, she came out; but still the man turned out to be a stranger to her. She went back in the hut to return with a stool in her right hand. She handed it to him. The man reluctantly received the stool and immediately dropped it to the ground and sat with all his relieved force. Squatting before him, she greeted:
“Kwasiya”, he replied.
“Kwasiya buti”, she continued.
“Kabotu kwasiya buti”, he responded.
“Kabotu”. Then a silence of assessment swept across. For sure traditional wisdom after all says that Masiku taabanwi Nyama; meaning you cannot share meat in the night.
“Tumugwasye na – what can we do for you?” she asked; her voice suppressing a wave of tremor.
“Eh – I am going to the river in the west but I have been caught up by night. I am asking for lodging; just for tonight”, the man requested. She looked at him. A cutting fever ran through her swiftly. She shivered slightly and cleared her throat to distract it. The request came as a big joke to her.
“Um, am sorry we can’t do that. All our huts are well occupied. May be you try further in the west”, she refused her voice full of agility.
“Please no bacembele I am so tired. I can’t walk further tonight. I need to rest. Just for tonight”, he pleaded. But the woman stood her grounds.
“Honestly speaking my dear this place isn’t good enough. We fear strangers more than we fear wild animals. How do we trust you? It’s so late in the night. We can’t even see you properly”
The refuse and plead conversation was still at its peak when Mweemba the owner of the home arrived. “Bina Doombe who are you talking to?” he called as he entered the compound from the southern end; his voice rusty with alcohol.
“We have a visitor asking for somewhere to sleep for tonight. He is going to Butwa”, Bina Doombe explained. Mweemba couldn’t stomach such unfathomable requests. He looked at the man quizzically and in a drunken stupor snappily commented, “You have a sunken face like that of a monkey. Sorry my man, we have no rooms for monkey faced strangers like you. You better move on before it’s too late”.
But the visitor was unshaken. He remained on the stool his face down like one in deep prayer. His head enclosed a wise thought; Kasako nkojisi nkalimvunyo ka Nzoka – a stick in your hand is a protection against snake bite. He vowed never to leave the home he had already grasped for a secured rest. And he knew pretty well that victory only comes to those who persist in the struggle.
After a prolonged debate; almost giving up, the visitor requested Mweemba and his wife to allow him sleep in their compound yard; but that too wasn’t good for them. Mweemba in fact said it was more risky than giving him a room to sleep. “You want to torch our huts in the middle of the night. No my man, just get up move on”, he seriously commanded.
“Then you tie my both hands and legs and put me somewhere around here if you are so scared of me. All I want is to spend my night at someone’s home for safety”, the man suggested. Mweemba, tired of a further argument thought of it as the only solution to their problem. “I have never seen such a stubborn man like you. Who are you by the way?” Mweemba asked as he walked away towards his hut to collect sisal rope he had bought recently from a trader at a beer party.
“I am Mweene. I come from the Hills”. But Mweemba could hardly hear the last part of the man’s sentence for was already approaching his hut. A few seconds later he appeared with a red three meter sisal rope. He tied the man up, and with his wife Bina Doombe holding the legs, him the hands they carried the man to the small hut in the southern end of the compound. Once inside, Bina Doombe spread a sack on the floor on which they laid him and she covered him with a tattered smelly old bed sheet.
Mweemba closed the door and locked it with a pad lock. To leave no room for doubts, he tied the door locks with a barbed wire. Sure of security, they thereafter left for an evening meal.

No comments:

Post a Comment