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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

Three Men meet a Strange Old Woman

Three men who had gone out to raid cattle from their enemies were returning home when they came upon an old woman who was stranded by the riverside. She was so weak that she could not cross the river by herself, so when she saw them walking towards her she said to them, “My children, please carry me across the river. I am weak and I cannot manage to cross it by myself.” Two of the men said to her, “It is not our business to carry hags like you on our backs! Mind your own business, mum.” But the third man said to his friends, “Please, show some kindness. We can surely carry this old woman across the river without any trouble.” Then he turned to the old woman and said, “Granny, jump on my back and I will carry you across the river.” So the old woman jumped on his back and he carried her across the river.

When he reached the other side of the river he asked the old woman to get off his back so that he could be free to join his colleagues. The old woman refused to come down, and remained clinging to the man's back. The other two men said, “Brother, you stay here with the old woman while we go to fetch one cow and slaughter it.” They erected an arbour within which they roasted meat. When the meat was ready, they said to the old woman, “Old woman, comedown and eat some meat with us.” The old woman said. “No. You can give me some and I will eat it right here, but I will not come off this young man's back.” The men refused to share meat with her. So they ate and ate until they were satisfied. When darkness set in they slept by the fireside. No sooner did the old woman see them sleeping than she jumped down and started eating the meat greedily. But it did not take long before she too was overcome with sleep. While she was thus sleeping the man who had been carrying her woke up, feeling very light. “Aa, this beggar is sleeping,” he said to himself. He went to his friends and woke them up: “Please wake up. The old woman is sleeping; let us go quickly.” So the three men walked away stealthily, leaving the old woman still sleeping.

When the men had gone, a hyena which had scented meat came to the place, and started eating the remains. While it was thus busy gleaning the enclosure of every bone, the old woman woke up from sleep and jumped on its back, thinking that it was the same young man who had helped her to cross the river. The hyena got so frightened that it took off with great speed running aimlessly without stopping

Eventually it plunged into the sea where it drowned with the old woman still clinging on its back.