|Bukusu Folktales (Kenya Literature Bureau, 1986, 134 p.)|
There was once a woman who because of remaining childless for a long time rose up and said, I must go and consult the diviner to tell me why I cannot have children of my own.
When she visited the diviner he told her Go and make a child of clay and blow into it your own breath; and she shall survive and grow up to maturity. So, the woman went to the river and collected a lump of clay from which she fashioned a female child whom she named Nambungu. She made her navel protrude as a sign of beauty because men adored women with protruding navels. She dressed her up in ankle-rings, calf-rings and put a string of cowrie shells around her waist.
In the morning the little girl said, Mother, I want to go to the river and fetch water. The mother said You may go, Nambungu, but remember keep away from rain. If you see it coming, please run fast and come home. So the girl went to the river with a little pot to fetch some water. While she was still there the mother heard the rumbling of distant storms and got very worried about what might happen to her child of clay. Oh, dear me! she cried. Heavy clouds are forming in the sky and my child cannot be seen anywhere. Oh, what shall I do?
She ran down to the river to call Nambungu, carrying a skin cloak with which to shelter her in case it started pouring. Nambunguu, Nambunguuu she screamed at the top of her voice as she saw clouds hanging threateningly in the sky. On seeing her mother the girl laughed and said Aba-bababaa! Mother, why do you have to come to the river to fetch me? Don't you know that boys are still admiring my navel?
And the mother answered, Yes, my child but it is going to rain on you. Don't you know that if it rains...? By then drops of rain had started falling but Nambungu was securely sheltered under the skin cloak, and so she was not drenched. When they got home the mother said Nambungu, you should not go to the river again.
Nevertheless, Nambungu pressed her mother to let her go to the river once more. Mother, she said, I must go to the river and meet my friends. So, the following morning, she was given permission to go to the river again. She stayed away until it started drizzling. The mother dashed to the river with the skin cloak, shouting and screaming Nambunguu, Naambunguuu! When she got to the river panting breathlessly Nambungu laughed at her and said: Mother, don't you know that boys are still admiring my ankle-rings? The mother said, Yes, my child but it is threatening to rain heavily. Don't you know that if it rains...? So the mother brought her home covering her with the skin cloak.
The next morning, Nambungu insisted yet again that she should be permitted to go down to the river. She promised to hurry back as soon as she saw any signs of rain. Though feeling upset about the idea the mother had no alternative but to give her consent for she could not afford to displease her dearest Nambungu. Soon after the girl had left for the river, clouds gathered in the sky and a cold breeze set in. A few drops of rain peltered intermittently, and the mother, by sheer instinct, dashed out and made for the river as fast as she could. This time she forgot to carry the skin cloak with her. Oh, my child, oh my child! she cried frantically as she sped to the river. Nambungu, Nambungu, oh Nambunguu! On seeing her, Nambungu burst out laughing: Oh..ho..hoo..hoo! Ehee-he-heee! Why are you panicking mother? Don't you know that boys are still admiring my calf-rings? The mother pretended not to hear what Nambungu was saying. She pushed the pot off her head and it crashed down in pieces. She then held her hand and urged her to run on fast. Please run, Nambungu! I am afraid of this rain....I think we will make it still. So, they ran and ran and ran but they could not make it, heavy showers got them before they reached home and so Nambungu disintegrated into clay. Oh, my poor child the mother sighed. But Nambungu was no more.