|Bukusu Folktales (Kenya Literature Bureau, 1986, 134 p.)|
In the old days when ogres had eaten all the people in the country, there lived one old man and his son who used to hunt animals for food. One day the son said to his father, Father, let us go and kill as many animals as possible so that we shall have sufficient meat for future use. The father welcomed this idea and so he took up his hunting gear and set out with his son. They hunted and hunted, and then the son said, Father, let us go home, I feel tired, I think what we have killed is enough. The father said, Very well, we can go home now.
When they got home they found that there was no fire with which they could roast their meat. So the father said to his son, Go with this stick and scratch on that rock over there which is glowing with red cinders; when the stick catches fire come back quickly so that we can roast our meat. The son went and scratched on the rock as his father had instructed him to do.
No sooner had he scratched on the rock than an ogre woke up from sleep and shaking his head said, Are you calling me? The boy got very frightened and said, Yes, it is my father who is calling you. So the ogre rose up and followed the boy until they reached home. When he got home the ogre said to the old man. Why did you call me? The old man was totally shocked. What reply could he give? He calmly threw one carcass to the ogre as if he understood what the ogre wanted. The ogre gobbled the animal and said, Why did you call me? The old man threw another carcass to him. After gobbling the second animal the ogre said Why did you call me? So the old man threw other carcasses to him in succession until all were finished. But still the ogre asked him, Why did you call me?
The old man said to the ogre, I invited you to come and enjoy some meat but you seem to be ungrateful to me! The ogre laughed derisively and said. Don't be a fool. I am not satisfied and I am going to eat you next. On hearing that, the son took his empty basket and fled to the bush.
And so the ogre ate the father. While in the bush the boy picked small fruits called chingayu and put them in his basket. He went to the ogre's house just before the ogre returned home. He climbed up the firewood rack which hung over the hearth and hid himself there. When the ogre returned home he did not have the slightest idea that anyone was in his house. He started boiling some meat in a pot, and while the meat was boiling he went out to look for some bananas in the garden. He went from tree to tree singing:
Ngeke eli, ngeke eli, pelu pechu;
Khaliangale; ngeke mulure, pelu pechu;
Khaliangale; ngeke nabala, pelu pechu;
Khaliangale, ngeke eli ngeke eli, pelu pechu;
Khaliangale, ngeke eli ngekeeli, pelu pechu;
Khaliangale, ngeke sulia, pelu pechu.
(Shall I cut this bunch of bananas or that?
pelu pechu; let that ripen; I shall cut
mulure, pelu pechu; let it ripen; I shall cut
nabala, pelu pechu; let it ripen; shall I cut this bunch or that? Let it ripen. I shall cut
sulia; pelu pechu).
He cut down a bunch of mulure bananas; returned to the house, peeled the bananas and cooked them. When the bananas were sufficiently cooked he dished them out. Just as he picked up one banana and dipped it in the soup the boy threw chingayu into the fire. No sooner had the chingayu dropped in the fire than they started exploding noisily, tulia-tulia-tulia, sending up a cloud of ashes. This scared the ogre so much that he dropped the banana and made for the door. He believed that it was one of the ghosts of the people he had eaten in the past that wanted to break his eyes. He thought about his own relatives whom he had eaten and then started singing a song:
Ngeba mayi niye nalia niye oukhola oyu; Nibelebenje, nibelebenje.
Ngeba Kukhu niye nalia niye oukhola oyu.
I dodge, and dodge, and dodge; but it seems to be the ghost of my own grandmother whom I ate that is following me.
As the ogre continued singing outside the house the boy climbed down from the firewood rack and ate all the food and then went back into hiding. When the ogre eventually returned to the house he found that there was no food left for him to eat. This confirmed his suspicion all the more that the ghosts of his victims were following him. Otherwise where could the food have disappeared to if it had not been eaten by some invisible beings? He peeled some more bananas and cooked them. But once again when he was about to enjoy his meal the boy threw chingayu into the fire and as they exploded the ogre took to his heels. He remained outside singing the song naming more relatives he had eaten in the past whilst inside the ouse the boy was busy eating his food.
The ogre decided to go and consult a diviner about the mysterious explosions in the house. When he related his story to him the diviner advised that he should brew a lot of beer and invite all ogres to come and witness the exorcising of the bad ghosts. So the ogre returned home and brewed beer as had been advised. He invited all the ogres in the neighbourhood to come and drink.
On the day when the ogres assembled at the beer party, the boy changed his hiding position fearing that the ogres might use all the firewood from the rack. He hid himself in the darkest corner of the roof where he felt safe. When drinking started the diviner instructed that the firewood rack be checked thoroughly but the ogres found nobody there. So they drank and danced merrily thinking that the menace had been removed from the house. However, when they were all getting drunk including the diviner, the boy showered into the fire handfulls of chingayu which instantly exploded successively, tulia-tulia-tulia-tuliaaa!! sending up clouds of ashes and smoke right into the roof.
The ogres got so confused that they stampeded for the door and fled from the house in different directions never to return to that country again.
a kind of sesame
Mulure, Nasirembe and Sulia are Bukusu names of various kinds of bananas. The words pelu pechu are the ogre's own puns and have no special meaning.