Dear Friends and Story Lovers,

!Xun storyteller, Emelia Kuvangu Muhinda talks about beading and storytelling in the same breath: “My mother wove beads into skin dresses for us when we were little. That was how I learnt to create things and tell stories.” I recently had the pleasure of retelling Emelia’s fabulous ogre story to an audience of mothers and daughters. Here is her story …

->Teria Mengu and her Jealous Husband<-

There was this man called Tshengu, who married a beautiful woman and brought her to his mother’s house. Her name was Teria Mengu. He looked around his village with new eyes and thought to himself, no, no, there are too many men here. Tshengu decided to take his new wife far away.

After only one day in their new place next to a river, husband said to wife: “You must wait here while I fetch our clothes and things.”

Mengu waited and waited, but Tshengu did not return. She wondered if he had another wife somewhere else and thought to herself, no, I will not survive like this. I must make my own garden straight away. And so she did. She planted the mealies she had with her and went to collect food in the bush.

Mengu stayed alone at the river’s edge. But one day at sunset, she heard a strange sound: “Kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu….

It was a giant ogre! He was rowing across the river in a canoe. He pulled it up against the river bank and walked over to Mengu’s place. He knocked at the door and said:

“May I come in?”

Mengu was afraid and replied: ”Yes, you may.”

The giant asked her for a chair and she gave him one. “Where is the porridge,” he asked. She gave him bowl of porridge.

He ate it and asked: “Where is a pipe?” And Mengu gave him a pipe.

The giant asked: “ Where is the tobacco?” And Mengu gave him tobacco.

When the giant had eaten and smoked, he asked for a drink. Mengu gave him a drink and he stayed for a long time. Eventually he asked if he could sleep.

“No,” said Mengu, “The sun is almost coming up.” The giant saw the sun rising, so he climbed into his canoe and went back to where he came from.

“Kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu….

When the sun began to set the following day, the giant returned. And again, he started asking for things.

Where is my chair?
There it is, replied Mengu
Where is my porridge?
There it is,
Where is my pipe?
There it is.
Where is my drink?
There it is.

Mengu thought to herself, I must give this all to him to save my life or he might eat me otherwise!

And so the next day, she calmed her fears and put out the chair, porridge, the pipe and the drink. Soon she heard the giant paddling across the river. The same happened as before.

Each time after the giant had left, Mengu set about her chores and at night, she put out the giant’s food. Then, one evening, her husband came back.

He saw the food she had put out and asked: “You are alone here! How can you put out all that food for yourself? Who are you doing this for? Is there another man? I brought you here so that you would not take another man!”

While Tshengu was raging at his wife, she said: “Keep quiet and listen to what I have to say. I am in big trouble. Do as I say!”

She took her husband and painted his head black with mud and charcoal from her fire. She dug a big hole next to her bed and told her husband to climb into it. She closed the hole up to his neck so that only his head was visible.

“You told me that I was cooking for another man. Now do not be afraid when you see him whom you call my other man.”

Then they heard that sound.

“Kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu….

Mengu whispered: “Remember what I told you. You must keep dead quiet and just look.”

The giant knocked at the door. “Open up so that I can come in!” And the wife said to her husband: ”Keep quiet and do not be afraid!”

The giant did not ask his usual questions. He simply looked at the painted head and said: “What is that and why does this place smell differently?”

“It is only a tree stump that I carved and painted,” replied Mengu. “Eat your food.”

When the giant had finished, he left and crossed the river on his canoe.

Kulungu, kulung, kulungu, kulungu, kulungu…

Mengu dug her husband out of his hole and asked:” Did you see what that man looked like?”

Thsengu had in fact got such a fright that he soiled himself! “Let us get out of here quickly!” he said.

“Quick! Take off your clothes and go wash in the river so that we can leave at once!” They left as soon as the man had cleaned himself.

When the giant came knocking on the door the next day, there was no reply. “No,” he said, “That carving was another man. Now I am too late! If I had known it was another man, I’d have killed him and eaten them both!”

The story walks till here.

Yours in the creative spirit of womanhood,

Marlene