‘Once upon a time, a long time ago,’ I began, ‘there was a beautiful young woman called
‘But did she love him?’ asked Nawiti.
‘That was the problem,’ I said. ‘
was in love with a mere villager called Cycle Mata.’ Zambia
‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti. ‘So the Chief wasn’t pleased!’
‘Not at all. He kept saying I am the Chief and you must respect the government of the day and give me
‘But did Nyama Soya really love
‘Oh yes. But the problem was that
didn’t love him.’ Zambia
‘But why did she love Cycle Mata, was he young and handsome?’
‘That was the funny thing. He was old, with rather a battered face. But he had a marvelous sense of humour and could tell the most amusing stories.
‘Better than yours, Grandpa?’
‘Even better than mine,’ I replied.
‘No wonder she loved him,’ said Nawiti, giving me a little hug. ‘But even so, she must have liked the idea of being the wife of the Chief. Couldn’t Nyama Soya win her love?’
‘That was the problem,’ I explained. ‘He went about it the wrong way. He would send her presents which, instead of pleasing her, caused offence.’
‘Such as what?’
‘He sent her a big blue chitenge with his face printed all over it, so that Zambia was heard squealing He thinks he can put his big fat face on my bottom. This caused the entire village to burst out laughing. Next he sent her a huge brown envelope full of money, causing
to protest Does he think I can be bought like a hule? Then he sent her a beautiful emerald necklace, which caused the entire village to shout with annoyance How is the chief so rich when we are living in poverty? He bought these things with our money! Zambia
asked Cycle Mata if she should send back these gifts. But he replied Just keep them. But don’t kubeba. When the time comes to choose a husband, choose the one who will look after you forever, not the one who tries to buy you.’ Zambia
‘So what did Nyama Soya try next?’
‘Nyamasoya said that he would build a road all the way from his palace to the village of the beautiful
, so that he could travel all the way down the road to propose marriage. But the people sneered, saying All these years he has never built a road, but now he wants to win Zambia for himself, suddenly he can build a road! Zambia
‘Again his plans backfired!’ said Nawiti.
‘Very much so,’ I said.
‘So what did he try next?’
‘Next was even more foolish. He started a rumour that Cycle Mata had never kissed a woman and that he only kissed other men.
was annoyed?’ Zambia
was in love with Cycle Mata, she was the very one who knew that this was a lie. And some people were even saying that this Chief is misbehaving, and maybe we should instead put Cycle Mata as our Chief.’ Zambia
‘So after that,’ said Nawiti, ‘Nyama Soya had no hope of winning the hand of
‘Of course not,’ I laughed. ‘But he didn’t realize that, because he wasn’t very bright.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti. ‘What did he do next?’
‘He was now getting desperate, so he turned to juju. He went to the ng’anga and asked for special muti which would make
love him.’ Zambia
‘And did the ng’anga give him the special muti?’
‘Not exactly. But he told him where to find it. The ng’anga told him to go into the forest and find a lion. Then he should pull a hair from its tail and bring the hair to the ng’anga.’
‘And did he manage, or did the lion kill him?’
‘Nyama Soya may not have been very bright, but he wasn’t completely stupid. He came back to the ng’anga with a hair from the tail of a hairy dog, claiming that he pulled it from a lion. And the ng’anga laid out the hair on a piece of paper and added some dried lizard powder, followed by a generous portion of chamba, and finally rolled the mixture into a long cigarette. After that he waved some old bones over it, and muttered some strange incantations in frightening gibberish. Then he turned to Nyama Soya and said Smoke this on the night of the next full moon and you will become young and handsome again, and your breath will smell so intoxicating that the beautiful
will just fall into your arms.’ Zambia
‘And did he become handsome?’
‘Unfortunately not,’ I said sadly. ‘Instead the rolls of fat on the back of his neck began to spread, until they completely covered his face, so that his appearance caused small children to run screaming to their mothers.’
‘And did his sweet breath attract the beautiful
‘His breath was so foul that the people had to chase him out of the chiefdom in order to get a breath of fresh air!’
marry her beloved Cycle Mata?’ Zambia
‘Of course. The Chief Justice joined them together the very next day.’
‘And was Cycle Mata made Chief?’
became Chief, and Cycle Mata was made her Faithful Servant.’ Zambia
‘And did they live happily ever after?’
‘That,’ I replied, ‘is another story.’