Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Cobra Spits

The Cobra Spits

‘Grandpa,’ said Nawiti, ‘can you tell me one of your Mfuwe stories?’
‘All my grandchildren seem to like my Mfuwe stories,’ I laughed. ‘And so, for you tonight, I shall tell you a completely new story, called The Cobra Spits.’
‘How does the story begin?’ asked Nawiti.
‘It begins,’ I said, ‘with all the animals of Mfuwe being very unhappy, because the Old Dinosaur, King Nyamasoya, had given permission to the Eager Beavers from China to come into the beautiful land of Mfuwe. These Eager Beavers were cutting down the all the mukwa trees and floating them down the Luangwa River for export to China.’
‘So the animals were getting rich, selling all those trees.’
‘No, the Eager Beavers were stealing the trees. And the monkeys were paid only a few peanuts to strip the branches, and the elephants were paid only a few bananas to drag the trunks all the way to the river. Every year the animals were more hungry and the forest was disappearing.’
‘But why didn’t the animals go to the Palace and complain to the king?’
‘King Nyamasoya listened to nobody, and if anybody complained he would set his hyenas on them. He was only afraid of the Spitting Cobra, who could frighten the hyenas. Several times the Cobra had climbed up the thick scales of the aged Dinosaur and spat in his face.
‘Now there was so much dissatisfaction with the old Dinosaur that the Spitting Cobra saw his chance. He went to the elephants and said Make me King and I’ll get rid of Old Nyamasoya and all his Eager Beavers.
‘But the Wise Old Elephant said What else are you doing to do for us? You must give the forest to us Elephants so that all the fruit is ours! So Spitting Cobra agreed. Then he went to the Monkeys and asked them what they wanted. We want all of the forest, so we can eat all the fruit! they demanded. And again the Cobra agreed.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti, ‘how could he promise the forest to both the Elephants and the Monkeys?’
‘He was a politician,’ I explained, ‘and he wanted their support. He promised the Zebra that he would banish the Lions, but he promised the Lions that he would put a fence round the Zebra so that they would be easy to catch. He promised the Rhinoceroses that all of his ministers would be appointed from amongst their number, and then went off to the Hippopotamuses and promised exactly the same thing.’
‘And so he became King?’
‘Of course,’ I laughed. ‘All the animals surrounded the Palace and shouted Shushushu! and Nyamasoya's hyenas ran away. Then the Cobra went in and climbed up the shivering Dinosaur and spat in his eyes, blinding him completely. The Dinosaur ran away to Jurassic Park and was never seen again. And so the Cobra became King, and all the animals celebrated.’
‘And did he kick out the Eager Beavers?’
‘No. He held a great feast in their honour, and said that more Eager Beavers should come and they could chop down as many trees as they like!’
‘He did the opposite!’ squealed Nawiti. ‘Why was that?’
‘He needed the money from the export of mukwa!’
‘Of course!’ laughed Nawiti. ‘I never thought of that! They don’t teach us economics in Grade 1! But did he keep the rest of his promises?’
‘None of them,’ I laughed. ‘Because he had promised opposite things to different animals.’
‘Of course!’ laughed Nawiti, clapping her hands. ‘It all cancelled down to nothing! They don’t teach us logic in Grade 1! So now he was in a fix! What did the snake do to wriggle out of that?’
‘He said he couldn’t organize the country properly because all the animals wanted different things. He therefore announced a series of measures to change the animals so that they didn’t have opposing interests.’
‘What were his directives?’
‘He ordered the Fish to learn to fly, and the Fish Eagles to learn to swim, and new schools to be built for this purpose. Similarly the Lions should learn to eat grass and not be tempted to bite Zebra, while the Zebra would all be kept captive in the Palace garden so that they wouldn’t put lions into temptation.’
‘Did it work?’
‘Of course not. At first the animals protested, but every day came more pronouncements on his marvelous new system. One day a Lion was made Minister for Moving Zebra, and even before the animals had finished laughing there was another announcement that the river was being moved nearer the Palace for administrative convenience.’
‘Did nobody go to talk to him?’
‘Nobody can argue with a Spitting Cobra. It just spits in your face.’
‘So did the King manage to move the river?’
‘Of course not. Every day the King stood in his Palace and gave more strange directives. And every day the animals ignored him, and went about their normal business.’
‘So things remained the same as under King Nyamasoya?’
‘Of course.’
‘So how did it all end?’
‘It all ended when the forest had all been chopped down, the Eager Beavers had all swum back to China, and all the animals of Mfuwe were starving.’
‘So what did King Cobra do then?’
‘He ordered that all the animals of Mfuwe should move to Tongaland, and that all the animals of Tongaland should move to Chibombo.’
‘And did it work?’
‘Of course not,’ I laughed.
‘Why not?’ asked Nawiti.
‘Because he hadn’t bothered to consult the animals of Tongaland.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Nawiti sadly. ‘Even in Grade 1, we learn to consult.’


  1. Kalaki...you have outdone yourself once again. Love this stuff

  2. Absolutely great. You never cease to amaze me. May you outlive your rulers, and live to tell a tell of them all.

  3. I love this....you are a great writer....

  4. We use wt wee hv to get wat we want anywe......somtymz honesty n politics wl lid u to nowre. Thus, shhhh, donchi kubeba

  5. Kalaki, we thank God for delivering you to us. You complete the circle of our lives. Long live King Kalaki.

  6. Kalaki, allow me to share my humble prophecy

    Year: 2006
    Author: Maiko Zulu.

    I am a Mad President, I am a Mad President
    My government is Me, Myself and I
    I am the police, the Judge and Jury
    I hire and fire at my own desire
    I am the one prosecutor
    I am the Bounty in the area
    I make my own rules, I make my decisions
    I dont need anyone to give me advise
    I know everything that I need to know
    I am the Don of the area
    I am the reason for your fear

    I am the Mad President, I am a Mad President

    Im gonna smoke my pipe in the Parliament yard
    I will make policies to make you suffer
    Im gonna rule the nation like a true dictator
    I am the vernomous Cobra
    I am the badder than bad
    I dont care for the people as long as I am fat
    I dont care about the Unions cause they behave like rats
    I dont care about the students, you know they are so rude
    I am the one Mad Proffessor, I am the one Mad Proffessor

    I am a Mad President, I am a Mad President

    I dont care for the ghettoes cause I dont live there
    I dont care about the villagers cause my village is in town
    I care for my family and my friends
    I am my own brother's keeper
    Im gonna be a sale-out cause I love this power
    Im gonna live my days by the second and not the hour
    Dont ever trust me, can't you see that Im a lier
    I am the one-man decider
    For the other men I am divider
    I dont give a damn what the MF's say
    So be careful what you say and be careful what do
    Im gonna brutalize all my tormentors
    I am th one Crazy Daddy, I am the one Crazy Daddy

    I am a Mad President, I am the Mad President.

  7. Wow. I love u kalaki.

  8. Gud one kalaki..tell them.

  9. Kalaki, if ever the Zambians get tired of you, please consider moving to Malawi. We sure could use your talents...