Born of Silence

by Mazuba Mwiinga

Chapter 2

Up here in the east it was a plateau. The land was high and flat like a table. Trees were scattered in far areas where they made groups of bushes and shrubs. A stream which provided life to the villagers wound from south to north. Animals used it, so were people. It was called Baceta.
The homes here were quite scattered as well. But if you called from the top of an anthill, the next home would hear you. Villages were groups of homes far apart from each other. Three to four homes would make a village. The people were as few as the homes themselves too.
It was early morning. The sun was just a few meters above the eastern dome. A youthful woman in her late twenties from Munjile’s home walked across the compound heading to the west. She was carrying an empty pail on her head. On the way she met other village women and walked with them as they reeled with laughter like hens burdened with ripe eggs in their fallopian tube. They were going to Baceta stream to draw water for home usage.
Baceta stream as usual was silently cool. Birds of various species flapped their wings from one twig to another, chorusing their own sweet sounds reminiscent of biblical disciples, speaking in tongues. Islands of sand lay grumpily on the middle of the stagnant thick waters. The women descended down the banks stepping their feet in water as they crossed to the sand islands complaining of the chilliness the water was giving their feet. Once on the sand islands, they splashed out the water from the ponds dug in the sand and waited for clean fresh water to sprout out and started to fill their containers. Then one by one the women started to lift their pails and placed them on their heads. The youthful woman called her close friend Bina Milandu to help her put the pail on her head. Teasingly Bina Milandu remarked; “Ah Namweemba, you are not a girl. Are you? Lift it on your own my dear. It will be hot soon we need to hurry up in time for work at home”
“Oowo? That’s what you can say to me”, Namweemba complained. “Days are numbered my friend. If I want I can just go home with an empty pail. After all there isn’t anyone I am working for here. You girls are luck to have husbands”. The four other women were now up the river bank. They could only be heard by their wailing laughter. Namweemba and Bina Milandu were the only ones in the stream.
“Don’t say that Namweemba”, Bina Milandu said. “The gods forbid. Your husband will come back; any day, believe me my dear”.
“Ha, ha, ha, haaa…” Namweemba laughed queerly, “As if you are the one who took him. He is dead Bina Milandu and everyone in Maziilika pretends as if he is still alive. They think they can fool me.” She sighed heavily and continued, “How I miss him though. He was the most handsome man in Maziilika. Not even a white man could stand a chance for a charming contest with him. He was a Prince in his own right; a god of beauty with a spell of love. Which woman mother of Milandu didn’t cherish a night with him in bed? Even you would have loved to feel his chest and massage his back; but poor me. He is gone. Gone Bina Milandu in thin air; Saansakuwa the dare witch took him. If I had the guts Bina Milandu, I would have gone there. There in Kobo and castra……..”
“Don’t mention it!” Bina Milandu cut her short. “Don’t annoy Saansakuwa Namweemba. Remember we are in his much protected stream. His shrine is just a few meters away. It’s a taboo my dear. Your husband will come back. Don’t be so sorrowful. It’s bad for your health”.
“That’s a painful joke Bina Milandu. You really know how to joke roughly at someone. Two solid years isn’t a joke to crack so amusingly. I have slept alone; ate alone; sung alone. I have faced the consternating jungle problems alone!” Namweemba complained bitterly. “I was a fool to marry him. But I loved the silly boy. He was the hero of my life, the envy of the land. He was my god Bina Milandu! Look at you. You have three children and I have none yet we came the same year in this village. I don’t even have a miscarriage. Nothing! And you tease me saying he will come back? When? When Bina Mila-la-la……..” Namweemba broke down and burst into tears. She slumbered on the sand and wept solemnly. Bina Milandu squat before her and tried to soak sense into her thoughts. She consoled her sympathetically and without helping matters anymore, she cooled down. Bina Milandu helped her lift the pail to her head and they too set off for home much to their sadness which was acknowledged by the presence of a deadly silence as they walked.

* * *

Munjile was seated on a stool leaning against an empty barn when Namweemba arrived from the stream. He was facing the warm sunlight, reminiscent of Lizards during a warm winter morning. As she entered the compound, he raised his head and glanced at her. He felt a despicable feeling possess him and regretted his son’s action. It was one of those moves one doesn’t become defiant with.
The new developments in Namweemba his daughter-in-law were worrying him. They devoured the humanity of a loving father like him. All the people in the village had been patient over the disappeared son. But two years elapsed there wasn’t any sign neither rumor of his whereabouts. They had once wanted to consult Saansakuwa the village seer, but a rumor discrediting him that he was actually the one behind such disappearances, had kept Munjile from seeing this great seer of letters. But people still hoped that Muunga would one day pop up from nowhere and be home again.
Then Namweemba developed an unusual disease – the crybabies. She would at anytime, sob whenever a thought of her lost husband crossed her mind. And this development had forced Munjile to consult the seer of distinction.
Saansakuwa kept up at an isolated place called Kobo near the source of the stream of Baceta in the southern hills of village Munjile. No one knew where he came from. And only a few villagers desired to know. A lot of stories circulated in the village about him tough. Some said he came from the east in a place called Bbondo. Others speculated that he came from south in Fumbo. Others claimed he came from north in Katubamabwe. But none had a transparent mind to convince everybody on the originality of this strange man.
But old men and women; the dictionaries of village wisdom said that this seer was there since world creation. The time when wild beasts could talk and human beings could exchange word of mouth with the Supreme Being.
Saansa as he was called in short by most villagers had told the people who were sent to him, that Muunga was in the world beyond the Plateaus. And that he was a rich man and Highness of that village he lived in. But he couldn’t tell them where that place was located.
“Muunga is a rich man. He has a lot of animals”, Saansa had pronounced. “He is famous and is headman of the area in which he keeps up. But his way is very complicated. There is a tragic life drama on him”. And who didn’t know Saansa’s great spell of predicting the future? It was going to be na├»ve for them to brush out his story just like that. For had it not been the very Saansa, who long, long time ago, had talked of the great battle and famine? And didn’t the predicted things occur?
It was barely two years after Saansa had breathed out his warnings, that the dark people across the Zambezi River – the Balumbu came and conquered the plateau. Those who had survived had to come back from hiding to start afresh. Then a great famine had rocked the area in deep seas of death. People had consulted Chifumpu the rain maker but it seemed as though his great spell was sterile as well.
It was not until two seasons that the rains came. And it was at this very period too when people were disappearing in thin. Luckily enough, as if manna had fallen from heaven for those who had remained, the rains were good and they had a bumper harvest.
That was ages ago; the time when people could speak to their ancestors eye bow to eye bow; the time when pig-skinned strangers were beginning to penetrate the thick jungles of the Plateau. Word had already pervaded the whole Tonga land that a bald headed tall White man had put a marking pole near a big dry tree known by tribesmen as cinkuni. Two weeks later, the Whiteman had constructed two shelters made of sisal tents. People had to cross the streams and ridges just to see this peculiar village in the plateau. They were amazed and shocked. The white-skinned man was putting a home at the most feared place in the village.
“O Mukuwa – Whiteman! This is a ghostly place. It’s a shrine of bad-omen. Witches, hags, thieves, evil-spirit possessed people, leprosy patients, murderers and many others connected with evil were buried around this place; and you want to put a home? You won’t last long badaala” the plateau people had sternly warned.
But Fr. Joseph had gone ahead. From two tents he included four more and they became six. During Sundays he would patrol the plateau preaching the Good News to the people as if all they knew before was bad and evil. Some people had followed him, others had seen calamity in him. The likes of Chimimba had held his religion by its roots. Together they had talked of Salvation and Hell; of Eternal Life and Death. In barely three years a Mission Station was fully set up. Fr. Joseph called it Kakuni Mission.
The place became popular thereafter. Even people from as far places as the hills of Kuvuna – meaning protector, in the east where they used to seek refuge during tribal battles had to walk to Fr. Joseph’s station. This place was so hilly that it protected people from tribal wars. They would run to it, climb hills and secure their lives. Their spiritual dedication had persuaded Fr. Joseph to discuss with Nuns under his Movement on setting up a Mission Station there too. Their talks were fruitful and a year later Kavuna Mission was set up.
That was years and years far gone. The days when Chimimba who later became a priest under the name of Fr. Domingo, used to sing:

Fwala Joseph Mukondo
Imukondo utuulubi

Fr. Joseph don’t forget
The path
The very path you
We shall all get lost as well.

Now Kakuni Mission was a centre of Christianity and high learning. Plateau children went by foot others by road to get the Whiteman’s wisdom. Their school was called St. Cosmos College. It enrolled boys only; while Kavuna Mission opened up St. James Secondary School for girls only. From Maziilika to both places was a distance worthy traveling. Most plateau sons and daughters just heard about these famous stations. Only a few privileged ones had set foot on them to see the Whiteman’s wonders in the middle of no where. And they were these people who came back to the village with a lot of spiced up sweet stories to breathe to their clansmen and women.
Long before Fr. Joseph came to the plateau, Saansa the great seer had talked about the two stations; but as they say ‘seeing is believing’; the people had given him deaf ears. When Fr. Joseph arrived and later set up Kakuni Mission on the filthy land, the villagers had their eyes opened up. Saansa’s words echoed in their ears: “He will have power against our gods; Power against evil and power against our beliefs. Some of our clansmen will join him”.
For sure nothing happened to Fr. Joseph and his followers. And now Saansa the great seer had said that Muunga was a rich man in some place unknown. People started to doubt his prowess in seering. Had he too humbled himself to this norm they call Christianity? How could a great seer who could see the future as it unfolded to him, fail to spot out the place where Muunga was? A big question mark bent in their thoughts.

* * *

After putting the pail of water in the cooking hut, Namweemba heard a call from her father-in-law. Quickly she as per custom took a reed amt and went with it to answer. She spread the mat on the ground about a meter from where Munjile was seated and freely but shyly sat on it. Munjile cleared his throat, looked at her and spoke: “Eh, I thought I should tell you this, my daughter”, he dropped his head as he scribbled something unreadable on the ground. “I think you know very well that the time we had been waiting for is up. Your husband isn’t back yet and no one knows when he will come back because no one knows where he is and what took him wherever he is”. He looked up at her, his eyes shimmering with suppressed tears.
“Yes…” Namweemba answered in a choked tone.
“Therefore my daughter I no longer has a hand on you. Your parents are now having all the powers on you. As we agreed earlier with your relatives, you should leave for your parents rest of the traditional nitty-gritty will be discussed later when we meet with your family members. If he comes back then we can inform you the soonest. I am sorry, but we can’t help it my daughter. We just follow what tradition dictates”.
Namweemba started to sob. Tears dripped down to the mat. She tried to wipe them with her dress collar, but the more she did so the more of them ran through the piece of cloth soaking it as if it has been left in water for a while. Munjile felt pressed hard in his heart. A queer feeling ran down his veins and little drops of tears appeared on his eyelashes of the lower brows. A drastic pain of sympathy held his heart so much that he couldn’t breathe normally. He had to force the air out of the lungs, thus producing a loud hissing sound as air passed out of his nostrils and he sighed deeply with confused relief.
He tried to speak, but no word came out and he just lowered his head in a shameful manner. Namweemba calmed down, stood up, got the mat and headed to her hut. He looked at her as she walked away. Out of sympathetic feeling, a curious feeling intervened. It was so powerful and urging that it stiffened his manhood and he felt an erogenous elation sweep through him. He stood up from the stool and walked about the place; looked around as if searching for something at a distance. He then realized that his wife and two daughters left early in the morning to a neighboring village for a visit while the three boys had just left for hunting in the bush.
Dazed with an unconscious sting he came back to his stool and sat; but the erotic throb seemed to have tied him so much. As if one possessed, he magnetically jerked up from the stool and headed to Namweemba’s hut. Without announcing his presence with hodi, he stooped under the low entrance of the hut; and he was hardly completely inside the hut when he came face to face with a completely naked Namweemba who was about to change in other clothes.
Bemused, Namweemba got transfixed to her position like a Bat struck with lightening on a wall. The drama was too quick and unexpected to be true. She was as mute as a dumb; no word neither power for any slight movement. She did not even have any sense of reason to put her hands on her bare lower front. She just stood helplessly like a sacrificial lamb ready to submit to its master’s wishes.
Munjile tried to smile but the skin of his face wouldn’t move. He looked at her straight into her skin, his eyes so globe like a cat stalking its prey. Out of his senses he didn’t even realize he was talking: “Let me help you. I won’t harm you my dear. I know very well that you are sexually lonely. Muunga could be dead by now but we can solve the mystery together. I hope you have heard about my sexual spell. Its ever lasting and you won’t be starving once I offer it to you. Just lie down friendly”. Namweemba felt as if she was in a nightmare. She started to heave, her eyes looking past him, tears rolling down her smooth cheeks down her lips and dripped to the floor.
Then he pounced on her. As she was about scream, he spat a ball of dark saliva on her lips and she went confusedly mute. He forced her to the mat on the floor and forced himself on her. As the ball of saliva dried up, she came back to senses and recognized all what was going on between her and her father-in-law; but her body was already willing as a gratifying ooze of ecstasy prickled her as each orgasm took turns to tickle her in silent yells and moans. She held her hands round him so tightly that she even forgot the person to whom she had been forced to offer her innocent being.
It all happened like a fairy tale to her. As he dressed up and left the hut, she felt completely different. She wasn’t herself anymore. His sexual spells swam into her blood streams like medicine meant to cure some sort of a virus. Munjile was notorious for that the whole of plateau. Once he shook hands with a woman he dreaded in having sex with, that would be it; and Namweemba seemed to have joined the line of those innocent victims of the situation. She dressed up feeling so weak, restless and awful. She blamed herself for nothing; may be if she had not gone in the hut all this wouldn’t have happened; may be if she had just left this place to her parents some back she would have been served from this shameful incidence; may be if she wasn’t born all together; her stomach was so soft and weak to take it all. She was embarrassed and ashamed of herself. What if she is pregnant? What will she narrate her ordeal and who will believe her? She wept her lungs out; scratching her head madly and cursing the day she was born. She haphazardly packed her belongings in a nylon bag; tears flowing all over her face; looking so haggard, she trotted out of the compound heading east to her parents’ home as if one running away from a mysterious creature behind.

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