Story of Mbulukazi
Story of Mbulukazi
THERE was once a man who had two wives, one of whom had no children, and for that reason she was not loved by her husband. Her name was Numbakatali. The other wife had one daughter who was very black, and several children besides, but they were all crows. The one who had no offspring was very downcast on that account, and used to go about weeping all day.
Once when she was working in her garden, and crying as usual, two doves came and perched near her. One of them said to the other: "Dove, ask the woman why she is crying." So the dove questioned her.
She replied: "It is because I have no children, and my husband does not love me. His other wife's children are crows, which come and eat my corn, and she laughs at me."
The dove said: "Go home and get two earthen jars, and bring them here."
Numbakatali went and got them. Then the doves scratched her knees till the blood flowed, and put the blood in the jars. The woman gave the doves some corn to eat, after which she took the jars home to her hut, and set them carefully down in a corner. Every day the two doves came to be fed, and always -told the woman to look at what was in the jars.
At last, when she looked one day, she saw two children, one a boy, the other a girl, and both very handsome. She was very much delighted at the sight, but she did not tell any one.
When the children grew a little she made a snug place for them in the hut, where they were to sit all day, because she did not wish them to be seen. Always before she went to her work she charged them not to go out, and as her husband never came to see her, no one knew of the existence of these children except herself and a servant girl.
But one day, when they were big, she went out, and aftcr she was away some time, the boy said to his sister: "Come, let us help our mother by bringing water from the river."
So they went for water; but they had not reached the river when they met a company of young men with a chief's son, who was looking for a pretty girl to be his wife. The young chief was called Broad Breast, because his chest was very wide, and it was also made of a glittering metal that shone in the sun. These men asked for water to drink. The boy gave them all some water, but the young chief would only take it from the girl. He was very much smitten with her beauty, and watched her when she left, so as to find out where she lived.
As soon as the young chief saw the hut that the girl went to, he returned home with his party and asked his father for cattle with which to marry her. The chief, who was very rich, gave his son many fine cattle, with which the young man went to the girl's mother's husband, and said: "I want to marry your daughter."
So the girl who was very black was told to come, but the young chief said: "That is not the one I want; the one I saw was lighter in colour and much prettier."
The father replied I have no other children but crows."
But Broad Breast persisted, so the man called his wives, both of whom denied that there was such a girl. However, the servant girl went to the man and privately told him the truth. In the evening he went to his wife's hut, and to his great joy saw the boy and his sister. He was so delighted that he remained there that nicht, and after talking it over with his wife, he agreed to let Broad Breast marry the girl.
In the morning a mat was spread in the yard, and the young chief was asked to sit down. The two children and the servant girl who told their father about them wgre also called, and they all sat down on the mat.
The young chief, as soon as he saw her, said: "This is the girl I meant."
He stayed part of the day, and then with his attendants went to his father for more cattle, which, having obtained, he brought them to the father of the girl.
The mother of the very black girl and the crows was very jealous when she saw such a fine young chief coming with so many cattle. She wanted her daughter to be the one that was to be married; so she dressed her as finely as she could, but she had no such pretty clothes as the other girl had. Her name was Mahlunguluza, for she was called after the crows, who were the other children of her mother. The pretty girl's name was Mbulukazi, which name was given to her because her handsome dress was made of the skin of a mbulu.
The mother of Mahlunguluza spoke to the young chief about her daughter, and so he married both the girls. Their father gave to each an ox, with which they went to their new home. Mbulukazi's ox was a pretty young one, and Mahlunguluza's ox was an old and poor one. When they arrived, Broad Breast gave to Mbulukazi a very nice new house to live in, but to Mahlunguluza was given an old one quite in ruins.
Then the very black one saw she was not loved, and she became jealous, so she made a plan to kill her sister. One day she told her she heard their father was sick, and proposed that they should go to see him. Mbulukazi consented, and as soon as they obtained leave from their husband they left. Their road led them along the edge of a cliff, below which was a deep pool of water.
Mahlunguluza lay down on the rock, and said: "Come, see what is here in the water."
Her sister lay down with her head over the edge of the rock, when Mahlunguluza jumped up quickly and pushed her over. Mbulukazi sank in the water and was drowned. Then the very black one returned home, and when her husband asked where Mbulukazi was, she said that she was still with their father.
The next day the ox of the drowned one came running to the village and walked about lowing for a while, after which it tore down the old ruined house of Mahlunguluza with its horns. Its actions attracted the notice of the men, and the], said: "Surely this ox means something, why is it doing this?"
Then it went to the deep pool of water, the men following it; it smelt all over the rock, and then jumped into the water and brought out the body of Mbulukazi. The ox licked her till her life came back, and as soon as she was strong once more, she told what had happened.
They all went home rejoicing greatly, and informed Broad Breast. When the young chief heard the story he was angry with Mahlunguluza, and said to her: "Go home to your father; I never wanted you at all; it was your mother who brought you to me."
So she had to go away in sorrow, and Mbulukazi remained the great wife of the chief.
The text came from:
Kaffir Folk-Lore. London:
Sonnenschein, Le Bas & Lowrey, 1886.