By Mazuba Mwiinga
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 received bad news.
At this lonely hour, some man was daring 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 harboured man for a long time. Rats ran away in amazement. Surely it was a wonder for them. For some time now, they lived along that path undisturbed. They might have been asking ‘where is this creature going?’ They couldn’t get a reply of-course; for he too seemed not to have known his destination. He was a wanderer. Such purposeless walking-about had been his routine; at least for some time then.
By his looks, he was deeply absorbed in confused thoughts. Relatives had aborted his mission. He hadn’t fulfilled his promise. What would his mother say when they meet in a village of no return? How would he explain all that? He shook his head in disgust. He just wanted to inquire about his sister; but to be awarded those death-signing scars. ‘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 hadn’t come across any village or home. The area was high, bushed and stony. May be he couldn’t just see the villages. Could 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 supped 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 would 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 that point he had come to. At twenty-five, he was a man or two and regarded ghosts as creatures to scare teenagers and women. He, dare-devilry soldiered on 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 distant horizon ran away from him too. So were the 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; ‘a man is a buffalo’, not meant for him?
As night covered the plain, waking up nocturnal creatures to life, the boy came to the source of the fire. It was in fact a home. Three huts were 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 far south end. The one with poles built as a wall completed the file in the middle. It served as a cooking place. An aluminium pot was placed over fire when the boy 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 boy. Having not recognized him, she came out; but still the boy 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 boy 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 said that people could not share meat in the night.
“What can we do for you?” she asked; her voice suppressing a wave of tremor.
“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 boy 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 fully occupied. May be you try further in the west”, she refused her voice full of agility.
“Please 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 refusal and pleading conversation was still at its peak when Stubborn Kusunda 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. The boy could smell the stench of gaankata the traditional village brew, as if the man was the cooking drum from which the fermentation took place.
“We have a visitor asking for somewhere to sleep for tonight. He is going to Butwa”, Bina Doombe explained. Stubborn Kusunda 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; ‘a stick in your hand is a protection against snake bite’. He vowed in his heart never to leave the home he had already grasped for a secured rest. And he knew pretty well that victory only came to those who persisted in the struggle.
After a prolonged examination; almost giving up, the visitor requested Stubborn Kusunda and his wife to allow him sleep in their compound yard; but that too wasn’t good for them. Stubborn Kusunda 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 and 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 boy suggested. Stubborn Kusunda, tired of a further argument thought of it as the only solution to their problem.
“I have never seen such a stubborn human-kind like you. Who are you by the way?” Stubborn Kusunda asked as he walked away towards his hut to collect a sisal rope he had bought recently from a trader at a beer party.
“I come from the Hills” the boy mumbled, but Stubborn Kusunda could hardly hear the last part of the man’s sentence for he was already approaching his hut at the northern end of the compound. A few seconds later he re-appeared with a red three meter sisal rope. He tied the boy up, and with his wife Bina Doombe holding the legs, him the hands they carried the boy 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.
Stubborn Kusunda 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.
Up there 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.
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 tubes. 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 in the middle of the stagnant thick waters. The women descended down the banks of the stream 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 Mukamutnu, 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”
“That’s what you can say to me”, Mukamuntu 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 lucky to have husbands”. The four other women were now up the river bank. They could only be heard by their wailing laughter. Mukamuntu and Bina Milandu were the only ones in the stream.
“Don’t say that Mukamuntu”, Bina Milandu said. “The gods forbid. Your husband will come back; any day, believe me my dear”.
“Ha, ha, ha, haaa…” Mukamuntu laughed queerly, “As if you are the one who took him. He is dead Bina Milandu and everyone 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 around. 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 sternly cut her short. “Don’t annoy Saansakuwa Mukamuntu. 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”.
Munjile was seated on a stool leaning against an empty barn when Mukamuntu 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 wouldn’t be defiant with.
The new developments in Mukamuntu 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 rumour of his whereabouts. They had once wanted to consult Saansakuwa the village seer, but a rumour 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 Mukamuntu developed an unusual disease – the cry-babies. She would at any time, 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 though. 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 that strange man. But old men and women; the dictionaries of village wisdom said that the 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.
“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 naïve 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 impotent as well.
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 Cuundu that a bald headed tall White man had put a marking pole near a big dry tree known by tribesmen as Cisamu. 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.
“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” the plateau people had sternly warned.
But Fr. Jose 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 Dalyangu 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. Jose called it Cisamu Mission.
The place became popular thereafter. Even people from as far places as the hills of Ciluli in the east where they used to seek refuge during tribal battles had to walk to Fr. Jose’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. Jose to discuss with Nuns under his Movement on setting up a Mission Station there too. Their talks were fruitful and a year later Ciluli Mission was set up.
Long before Fr. Jose came to the plateau, Saansa the great seer had talked about the two stations; but as they said ‘seeing is believing’; the people had given him deaf ears. When Fr. Jose arrived and later set up Cisamu 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”.
And then 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 that norm they called 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, Mukamuntu heard a call from her father-in-law. Quickly she as per custom took a reed mat and went with it to answer the call. 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…” Mukamuntu 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 and the 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”.
Mukamuntu 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 they ran through the piece of cloth soaking it as if it had 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 shame. Mukamuntu 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 intruded. It was so powerful and urging that it stiffened all his sensitive muscles of his body 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. His wife of thirty-seven years passed away three years ago. And his step son Muunga was gone. His other two sons had just left for hunting in the bush.
Dazed with an unconscious sting he came back to his stool and sat; but the amatory throb seemed to have tied him so much. As if one possessed, he magnetically jerked up from the stool and headed to Mukamuntu’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 unclothed Mukamuntu who was about to change in other clothes.
Bemused, Mukamuntu was transfixed to her position like a Bat struck with lightening on a wall. The drama was too quick and unexpectedly surreal to be true. She was as mute as a dumb; no word neither power for any slight movement gave her a sense of action. 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. I know very well that you are lonesome. Muunga could be dead by now but we can solve the mystery together. I hope you have heard about my spell. Its everlasting and you won’t be starving once I offer it to you. Just relax”. Mukamuntu 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. Her physical natural body willed as a gratifying ooze of trance prickled her as each sensation took turns to tickle her in silent yells, but her soul was silently bitterly weeping and cursing. She was lost in mirages of filth and hopelessness. The gods had forgotten her. She was penetratingly sad and angry. She couldn’t forget the person to whom she had been forced to offer her innocent being.
It all happened like a fairy tale to her. As he shamelessly dressed up and left the hut, she felt completely awful. She wasn’t herself anymore. She dressed up feeling so weak, restless and appalling. 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 time 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 was pregnant? What would she narrate her ordeal and who would 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.
In the southern far side of Cuundu, the land was high, rocky and covered by bushes and tall trees. There were two high and flat-peaked lands. One was Sikabenga the other one was Nampeyo.
At the eastern foot of Nampeyo highland, laid the famous village Namausha. The village had a lot of legendry stories to tell. Just like the plateau great seer, it was also a land with dreaded spell. It had planted estrangements to both Sikabenga and Nampeyo villagers. In the midst of this spell a very gentle and village angel-man Tall Kujolomana died and almost everyone was callously sorrowful and bitter. He was the voice of the down trodden and stood for the people in midst of a punitive and callous headman. Everyone blamed headman Namausha for his death and something defensible was to be done. To thwart the heart broken villagers’ likely morbid emotions, the headman colluded with his insidious neighbouring village headman Munjile who had never in his life seen the inside of a marriage. Kujolomana’s widow, Luse was immediately forcibly married off to headman Munjile. Giant her only son went along, barely a year old. This riled the villagers even deeply hurt.
As wife to Munjile in the beginning life was so sweet to Giant’s mother Luse, that she forgot the miseries she went through as a widow. But as Muzambali the second child was born, all hell was let loose. There was no day Giant’s mother would proclaim as safe and merry. Even when she conceived and later gave birth to Maulu, she was so sad that she did not find any bit of joy in having celebrated her third child. This sadness went to extents where Giant himself was found into the cross fire; after all the Tonga used to say that – a bitter pumpkin spoils the others too and Giant eventually grew up into an isolated young man totally out of place.
At the time he was about to start the epic away from the village his mother who had been in and out of bed, got critically ill and shortly afterwards died. It was the darkest cloud he had ever seen in his life. While on her bed breathing her last, Luse her mother had muttered to those who were at her bedside; “All – all – all my belongings together with all my cattle, give them to my first child”. And then she crossed over to the other side. When the day came for sharing her belongings, Giant was about to be given all the things according to her mother’s Will. But Muzabali, the first-born child to Giant’s mother and headman Munjile protested, saying he was the first born the late mother meant. Giant tried to put his argument straight, but Muzambali and Maulu pushed his dispute away. The deeper the argument went, the more furious the two blood brothers became, and eventually went on Giant. They savagely walloped him with anything they could lay hands on; and on smelling death, Giant staggering left the village and headed west where he met a beaten path and forged ahead, leaving the Munjile family celebrating, let alone his wife Mukamuntu, who locked herself in their hut sorrowfully weeping her tears out.
* * *
Down the Plain, it was calm but hot. The sun was heating the land from the Tropical of Capricorn. Cicadas were complaining bitterly in trees. Birds hardly chirruped. They made incessant trips to and from the Village stream to quench their bursting thirst. But from here some found themselves in tight ropes of traps set by villagers.
At Stubborn Kusunda’s home in village Butwa things appeared weird. The early morning crow continued crowing while from the other end of the home, a small bony dog barked as it trotted round the ambience well. Kusunda tried by all means to ignore it as he pretended to enjoy his sleep. But the more the dog went ahead barking, the more curious he became. He then sprang from the bed, waking her wife up in the process and went outside trying to silence the dog. He went round his hut, stretched himself as he yawned, watching the sun shooting its bloody rays up the eastern horizon and immediately realised that last night he received a visitor. Just then, his wife who was surreptitiously standing behind him asked in a worried tone whether the visitor was already up. Kusunda sharply looked behind his shoulder and replied: “If you have untied him yes”.
As he turned to walk towards the southern end of his yard, he saw three men hurrying approaching. He stopped and looked at them questionably. As soon as they announced their presence, Stubborn quickly welcomed them. His wife rushed to the cooking hut and brought three stools, which she handed to them immediately for she presumed they were tired. When they breathed out deep air of relief, Stubborn Kusunda greeted them and asked them their business.
“He who fears visitors is a coward. Who are you and what can we do for you?”
“Oh yes. We can see that you are very anxious to hear our mission” one of them said. “I am Kagondo, he is Nyeleti Kujolomana and he is Tebulo Munjile”.
“Did you say Kujolomana? And you Kagondo?” Stubborn Kusunda asked.
“Yes. But whose home is this? Is it not Stubborn Kusunda’s?”
“What do you want?” Stubborn Kusunda asked.
“I am Kagondo Kusunda, the young brother to Stubborn Kusunda. We are looking for one Giant Kujolomana, the only son to my sister Luse Kusunda Kujolomana and late Tall Kujolomana.”
“Yes. The villagers have invaded my elder brother headman Munjile’s home and ransacked the whole place demanding the presence of Giant” Tebulo Munjile reported his eyes red with fear.
“Kindly eat your hearts and level me in”, Stubborn Kusunda asked with shock.
“There is war back in the Plateau. Villagers have taken in headman Munjile custody vowing to kill him”, Nyeleti Kujolomana explained.
“Who are you?” Stubborn Kusunda curiously asked.
“I am the young brother to Giant’s father. I am Nyeleti Kujolomana. Your sister, Giant’s mother is dead. Villagers are incensed”,
“Why? Do they think headman Munjile killed her?” Stubborn Kusunda asked panicking. Something was hitting his nap so painfully.
“No. the headman committed a crime against our clan and against our custom. He erupted the people’s already boiling anger against him and his friend Namausha”, Kagondo Kusunda furiously revealed.
“My brother raped Giant’s wife with impunity. His sons sent into exile the legitimate son of the soil. That’s a taboo. Is Giant here?” Tebulo Munjile shamefully stated. Stubborn Kusunda’s face dropped. He sprang from his stool and headed for the small hut he had offered the visitor to use the previous night, the three visitors following behind closely. What he found took him speechless. The door was as intact as he had left it the previous night. The sisal rope he had tied him with, was on the floor. But the visitor was gone!
“What is the meaning of this Stubborn!” Nyeleti Kujolomana angrily asked.
“He was here…damn it!”
Kusunda immediately asked the visitors to help him find the stranger. They invaded the bush, walking up and down the hills, searching in rocks and caves, in thick bushes and thorny thickets, in trees and moles, in people’s huts and tall grass, but the stranger was nowhere to be found.
“Remember I always told you to welcome strangers in your home, because there are some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing?” breathing heavily, his hands akimbo, Kagondo Kusunda reminded his brother.
“Are you better than me Kagondo; doesn’t the devil also recite from the Holy Book! How would I have known that he is my sister’s son?” Stubborn Kusunda shouted.
“He shouldn’t just have been your nephew Stubborn. Our custom states….” Tebulo Munjile said but Stubborn Kusunda furiously cut him short.
“Just shut up you scoundrel! Isn’t it your dirty, selfish wizard who has brought all this to us! How dare you lecture me about being my sister’s son’s keeper when your own blood is busy spilling out other’s people’s blood! You are no better than him. You are all blood suckers!”
“That’s enough! Do you think I am here to play god! Every dog has his day. I want Giant to go back there and get his justice. The whole village is behind him”, Tebulo Munjile retaliated.
“You cowards! You shut up your beaks all this time; and look where it has landed you. Giant’s father died because of his audacity. But none of you had the guts to zip-up your pants and face the notorious scallywags you call headmen!” Stubborn Kusunda shouted, his eyes dripping down tears of anger and sorrow, more of his guilt for his actions against his nephew.
“It’s your guiltiness that speaks Stubborn. Yes my brother was full of courage; this is a lesson to us all, that in times of suppression we need, never to be onlookers of injustices or stupidity. The grave will give you plenty of time for that silence. We need to find Giant before it’s too late”, Nyeleti Kujolomana calmly but strongly told them.
“Maybe he is not supposed to be found?” Tebulo Munjile reminded and everyone looked at him with awe.
“Remember Saansakuwa’s words on Giant? That he is a headman and rich where he is? Who are we to terminate his destiny? Sometimes calamity happens so that we the people shall wake up from slumber and change the course of our stories to make history”, Tebulo Munjile explained so sure of himself.
“What the hell is he talking about?” Stubborn Kusunda asked.
As the sun shone towards sunset, the searchers just returned home with nothing encouraging to report. But those who knew told them that, behind the stranger, there was always more than could see the eye.