Cover Image
close this bookBukusu Folktales (Kenya Literature Bureau, 1986, 134 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe Boy Who ate the Elephants' Rumps
View the documentThe Hare and the Leopard
View the documentMwambu and Sella
View the documentThe Story of Apelu
View the documentHare Steals a Hen
View the documentSimbi and Namakanda
View the documentKhole
View the documentWanakhatandi
View the documentA Father and His Son
View the documentAn Old Woman and Her Deformed Son
View the documentThe Dog and the Leopard's Children
View the documentNasio and her Brother
View the documentHare, Hyena and Lizard
View the documentKasawa and his Forbidden Pumpkins
View the documentA Woman and Her Daughter of Clay
View the documentHare leads Leopard to a Hive
View the documentHyena and Baboon
View the documentHare and Elephant Pay a Visit
View the documentLemata and Katamba
View the documentThree Men meet a Strange Old Woman
View the documentA Hyena Ate His Protector
View the documentThe Secret of a Murder
View the documentA Bull Newt Who Refused to heed his wife's advice
View the documentA Dying Old Woman earns Bridewealth for her Sons
View the documentFortuity is like Dew Drops
View the documentA Basket Maker Declares Himself Free from the Burden of Debts
View the documentThe Thirsty Intruder
View the documentBack Cover

Nasio and her Brother

A long long time ago after ogres had eaten all people in the country, there lived two orphan children, a boy and a girl who had inherited a big herd of cattle from their father. The girl's name was Nasio. While the boy went out to look after the cattle the girl did housework. Life was so precarious that the two children's survival often depended more or less on instinctive discipline. Each day the boy left home to go to the pastures he told the girl to lock herself up in the house so that the notorious ogres could not eat her. When, after grazing the cattle he returned home in the evening he used to sing a special song announcing his coming. It was important that the girl should not only know the words of the song but also should learn to recognise the boy's voice. The song went like this:

Nasio-oo, Nasio, Nasio-oo Nasio
Chamakhung'eng'a, Nasio, Nasio-oo, Nasio
Khalongo sina, Nasio, Nasio-oo, Nasio;
Yikula chinune, Nasio, Nasio-oo, Nasio

(Nasio, Nasio, Nasio, Nasio, they have been licking which salt-lick? Nasio, Wabutubile's salt-lick Nasio, let the calves out to suckle, Nasio).

Whenever the girl heard her brother singing she opened the door and dashed out to receive him ululating:

Aytith-yi-yi-yiiih! Ayiii-yi-yi-yiiih Cha yaya chalota!

(Hurrah! hurrah, hurrah! There comes my brother's herd).

Everytime the boy announced his coming the bulls bellowed: Buuuuuu and the cows mooed: Moooooo!

After milking the cows Nasio prepared the evening meal, and after eating they slept until the following morning. Things went on like that, day after day. Then an ogre who had been scouting on the area made a plan to kidnap the girl. “How shall I get this girl?” he said to himself. “Aa, right, I shall pretend to be the brother by singing the way he does and then when she comes out I will pounce on her.”

So, one day, while the boy was still away grazing the cattle, the ogre came and sang outside the house in a very hoarse voice:

Nasiooo, Nasioooo, hooo!
Khalongo kha Wabutubile, hoooo!

On hearing that the girl laughed and said, “Ehe-heeeh! You are not my brother you are only a clumsy ogre!” The ogre was very disappointed and went away. When the boy brought cattle home Nasio reported to him, “Brother, an ogre came here while you were away and tried to imitate your voice so that I could open the door for him, but I recognised that it was not your voice so he went away!”

The Boy praised her for behaving so responsibly. He exhorted her “Please Nasio be a good girl and never at any time fail in your vigilance. You are in grave danger now for this ogre may try to seize an opportunity to do you harm.”

The following morning when the boy had gone to the pastures the ogre came again. He sang and sang and sang and sang almost to perfection but once again the trick failed. Nasio detected another flaw in his voice and shouted, “Go away! You are a mischievous ogre. You do not even know how to pronounce my name properly.”

The ogre left. And when the boy came in the evening Nasio related the second episode to him. He was very concerned about her safety. “What shall I do,” he thought aloud, “if Nasio, my only sister...just the only human being in this world that I look at every day of my life is killed what shall I do!”

“Nasio,” he called out, “I will try to graze the animals around so that I can be on the look out constantly, I will come home early today, but you must not relax your vigilance.”

Whenever the ogre had failed in his mission, he had varied his next visit, coming at odd times, so as to beguile Nasio into believing that he had disappeared from the area. He also spared more time for his impersonation drills. Hence for the next few times when the boy decided to graze within the vicinity the ogre did not show up. Naturally, the boy assumed that the ogre scare was diminishing and consequently began to take his herd to distant pastures as was the case previously.

When the next opportunity arose the ogre came round and imitated the boy's voice so perfectly that Nasio responded to the song dashing out very confidently only to fall into the hands of the hungry ogre.

He devoured her leaving bare bones in the house. On his return in the evening the boy sang and sang but there was no response from the house. He called and called but there was no human voice to cheer his spirits up. The dead and still silence could no longer sustain his hope. He ran to the door shouting, “Nasio, Nasio, Nasio... it is me!” But all was calm as death. He pushed the door open and entered the house only to stumble on Nasio's bones. He looked around; the skeleton was staring at him ominously. What a sight! He ran out and went to collect a branch of the healing shrub called lufufu.

He arranged Nasio's skeleton in the proper order and then tapped it with the healing stick. Suddenly Nasio revived and became herself again. On asking her what had happened Nasio said that the ogre had come and imitated his voice so well that she had opened the door for him and had been eaten. “Nasio, next time don't forget please,” he said.

The next day, he grazed the animals nearby and when he returned home, he sang as usual and Nasio came to receive him. The routine continued for quite some time and then the ogre struck again. The ogre wondered, “I thought I had eaten up this girl. How is it that she is still living in the same house. Next time I will eat her bones and all.”

Thus when the ogre got Nasio unawares on the next occasion, he ate her completely without leaving a single bone around. When the boy came home he found that there was nobody to welcome him. He entered the house to check whether he could find Nasio's bones but they were nowhere to be seen! And there was practically no clue at all to her disappearance. He could not make out whether the ogre had kidnapped Nasio or simply eaten her up. He cried and cried and cried vowing to avenge her death. Before sunrise he set out armed to the tooth to look for Nasio. He travelled day and night crossing many rivers and making a thorough search of every place he came to. Finally, he arrived in a land inhabited by ogres.

He made inquiries from door to door until he was at last able to trace the ogre who had eaten Nasio. He challenged the ogre to tell him where Nasio was but the ogre denied any knowledge of her. “I will kill you if you can't vomit out my sister!” he threatened. The ogre panicked and said, “Please, please, please don't kill me! Just cut this little finger and your sister will come out.”

So, the boy chopped off the ogre's little finger with a sharp sword and as soon as he did that a line of people scrambled out. Nasio came out first followed by her parents, then her sisters and brothers and then several relatives and neighbours. The last to come out was a very old woman. Soon after she had come out she said, “Please, please, allow me to go back and collect my tobacco pipe.” And so she was allowed to re-enter the ogre's belly with a view to collecting her pipe.

However, no sooner did the old woman re-enter the ogre's belly than the ogre cried out saying, “Please let me die with this worthless creature.....Oh, please.....” Hence, when the boy finally killed the ogre the old woman was trapped in his stomach.