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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

A Dying Old Woman earns Bridewealth for her Sons

A long time ago an old woman asked her sons to slaughter a large he-goat for her meal so that she could fetch them bridewealth cattle. Knowing how aged and sickly the old woman was, the sons laughed and said to her.

“But mother, since you can neither cultivate in the garden nor get married again, how would you fetch us bride-wealth cattle?”

The old woman insisted that she had no intention of eating the he-goat for nothing, but would earn bride wealth for her sons. Unbelievingly, the sons selected a fat he-goat and slaughtered it. They then prepared a tasty meal for their mother. After the old woman had eaten the he-goat meal, she called her sons to her side and solemnly said:

“My children, you know that I am sickly and too old to live any longer. There is nothing you can do to prolong my life. But I do not want to die for nothing. There are herdsmen who always pass here driving a large herd of cattle. I have observed them many times and noticed that they often do stop by that foxhole and try to look for a fugitive bush-pig thrusting spears at the mouth of the hole. I want you to dress me in a skin of a dead bush-pig and conceal me in the foxhole so that when the herdsmen come they can spear me to death thinking that they are killing a bush-pig. Once they have done that, you can seize their cattle and claim compensation for my murder.”

The sons obeyed the instructions of their mother and did as she had bidden them to. They then concealed themselves in the nearby bush and waited for the herdsmen to come. Shortly afterwards, the herdsmen drove their cattle by and at once headed for the foxhole. One of them was heard shouting that he had seen the bush-pig in the foxhole.

He quickly thrust a spear into the foxhole and continued jabbing at the oldwoman, thinking that he was killing a bush-pig. The old woman screamed in her dying agonies and thereupon the sons dashed out from their hiding place and surrounded the herdsmen demanding that instead of killing them in the revenge of their mother's death the herds men should at once pay a fine of thirty head of cattle for killing their mother.

The herdsmen greatly apologised for the misadventure and agreed to pay a fine of thirty head of cattle to the sons of the deceased old woman. On the following day the sons organised a pompous burial ceremony for their mother, and slaughtered two cows in her memory.