Blogtember Challenge · Fiction · Folk and Fable

Stories From Home – How The World Came Into Being.

Long before the invention of time, Sun stood high and mighty by her lonesome. She loved to dance around the sky with her hands spread out, twirling on her orbit and humming songs of praise to Ngai, the creator. She had lived for thousands of years but not once did she ever go off. She had longed for some company and often asked Ngai to mold her a friend or a child, but being the jealous man that he was, Ngai refused Sun’s request. He loved all the attention he got from her and the thought of Sun shifting her devotion from him was frightening

Sun’s mood begun to change and her light started to dim without her noticing. Ngai’s concern grew as he begun to shiver from the cold. “Sun, shift your posture to the right, I’m trying to warm up here.” He requested.

Sun did as her master said but Ngai was still cold. He pondered for a moment and thought of a solution to the problem but there was non. “When I created you, you smiled and danced your way around. You lit up the sky and brightened me up. Now you look distressed. What could be the matter?” Ngai asked.

” I have no one other than you Ngai. I need some company,” said Sun. “A child maybe?”

Ngai had grown tired of this topic and pushed it for later, but his heart had softened because he knew he needed Sun to keep warm. Before he went on his way he said “Fine. I will create one child only. But I’m afraid you will no longer devote your attention to me so you will stay near me.”

Sun immediately lit up upon hearing the news and twirled her way around the sky again. Ngai created Earth for Sun and placed her at a fair distance from her mother. Sun was then instructed to stand still at the center.

Earth was round and brown. She was made up of dirt and hot coals were placed within the confines of her belly- Ngai had used some of Sun’s heat to mould her. She went about her orbit in hopes of reaching her mother Sun, but her efforts availed nothing. This made Earth very sad from loneliness and she in turn begged Ngai for a favor. “I’m in desperate need of a brother or a sister,” she pleaded with tears in her eyes.

Ngai knew this request all too well and reluctantly collected some of Earth’s coals and transformed them into Fire. “There you go. You have a brother named Fire,” and off Ngai went to scold Sun for ever asking for a child in the first place. He realized he just could not please anyone and this frustrated him.

Earth and Fire loved to play but their games often resulted in one hurting the other. Fire had a bad temper and Earth was hard headed. Having a sibling was not all that fun after all. When they had their differences, Earth often called upon Ngai for a chat but sometimes he was too busy for her complaints. His anger scared her to a point of making her cry. To make up for his actions, Ngai collected all of Earth’s tears and transformed them into Water.

“Whenever Fire fights you, team up with water,” Ngai said and went on his way.

Earth and Water were inseparable and Fire became jealous. He approached the creator for some consolation. Feeling the need to be fair, Ngai sympathised with Fire and formed Wind from Water’s back. “You have a brother to support you when you’re at your lowest point. Call on Wind in those moments.” Ngai left for his dwelling in the sky and marveled at his creation.

Earth, Fire, Water, Wind.

They lived in harmony most of their lives, but they sometimes rivalled against each other. When that happened, there was often a calamity. Wind carried everything in his way. Fire consumed everything he could. Water drowned anyone who’d disagree with her and Earth would crack herself open and destroy anyone on her back.

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Day 25

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Blogtember Challenge

Stories From Home – Afrotheology

When somebody dies, their soul departs from their body and ascends into Heaven if they lived according to God’s standards. If they lived their life causing harm to others, their soul descends into hell.

It was the same with our forefathers – their gods presided over their whereabouts in the afterlife. Your destiny was highly dependent on your actions on earth. When death knocked at your door, your body became dust and your soul joined others who had gone before you in the spirit world. In the Tonga tradition, the dead person’s spirit was known as Mizimu and it had the ability to protect families or haunt enemies. Death rituals (sounding drums and running in all directions while singing sorrowful songs) were therefore performed to accord the deceased person peace in the afterlife so that they would not appear as ghosts. In ancient Egypt, kings were buried along with their possessions so that they could continue to enjoy the same spoils on earth as in death.

There existed thriving traditional liturgies in ancient Africa. Mwari, Mulungu, Lesa, Nyambe, Ngai etc etc were all names of deities. People subscribed to different gods that were in charge of different facets of life. Good behavior earned the people abundant rainfall. If the rain deities however, were not impressed with the peoples’ actions, sanctions were sent on earth causing droughts. In such times, a rain maker with special powers was selected to perform rituals that’d appease the gods. If the rituals were unflattering, the gods sent misfortunes to show the people that they were not impressed. One tired and angry god is Leza who sent a honey bird with three calabashes of seeds to earth. He instructed the bird to scatter the seeds from only two of the gourdes and keep the third one safely until his return to earth. Know what happened? The bird pecked the seeds from all three gourdes causing a huge mess. Leza furiously spent much of his time cleaning up, which caused him to release bolts of lighting and drums of thunder. The rain god should have known better!

Leza along with his fellow gods often proved that they were easily angered. Merely questioning their divinity or the origin of mankind was prohibited. Even though findings in science have proved that the human race evolved from the Homosapien, oral stories tell varying stories. The Tswana people for instance, trace their roots from Matsieng, a giant who emerged from a water hole along with throngs of people and animals. Seeing that the areas surrounding the hole were fertile, Matsieng and his entourage settled there. His footprint is now a national monument in Botswana.

Matsieng’s footprint

The Shona people of Zimbabwe on the other hand, established their kingdom on the Zimbabwe plateau. There they engineered stone structures considered to be one of the most marveling of arts in the ancient world. The building was known as Dzima Dza Mabwe – Great Stone Houses, where the country derives its name.

Great Zimbabwe

In a quest to find salt, Nyatsimba Mutota stumbled upon the stone acres and founded his kingdom, thereby becoming the first Mwene- prince. Over population led to the demise of the Mutapa as resources became too scarce to sustain human life. Consequently people broke out of the kingdom to found their own nations which then led to tribal wars. Other ancient African establishments crumbled similarly with colonization being the pinnacle; Christian missionaries preached against traditional beliefs calling it witchcraft or black magic.

Today remnants of ancient African theology linger, but are greatly feared and discouraged by modern faiths.

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Many many thanks to Beaton and Kay for their contributions!! 🙏 🙏

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Day 23

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Blogtember Challenge · Personal

Stories From Home – Limbo Limbo Limbo

Does he snort when he laughs? Does he throw his head back when he laughs? How does he act when he’s mad? Does he sit by his lonesome until he calms himself down or does he throw things around? Does he like people or he’s lonesome like I am? What is it about me that’s like him? I might never know.

My memory of our last time together is not vivid but the cause is. It was a week before I went to uni. 2011 was the year. He wanted to make sure I was okay before starting my new chapter. For a little while we talked, checked on each other. That kind of thing. Then the frequency weakened and the check ups dropped. I was used to it. I wasn’t disappointed. If anything I anticipated it for a really long time. He had said something about being a bad texter. No hard feelings. All was good on my side. Limbo, limbo, limbo.

2013, autumn leaves fell to the ground. September came and I was spring break ready. Cultural Festival, Ladies Night, $1 Dollar Shots, 5 bucks ciders . I had an eventful birthday week. I remember getting his text a day later and his excuse was that he didn’t have credit. No problem.

I became detached and it didn’t bother me. I remember moments when I’d pray about it because I wanted to miss him. I just wanted to have those normal obsessive feelings that other girls have. I prayed to God to place that desire in me but it just died a natural death.

Time has lapsed.

I now only ever hear from him once a year and I’m a little bit sad about it. It was only a matter of time. Not so limb anymore. This I’m quite happy about because those are the feelings I used to pray for and God has finally answered. I want nice things. I want a nice life. A better job. Loyal friends. A tiny part of me just feels like I have to make my peace with him and certain hopes and dreams will fall in place. The African in me holds these sentiments to a degree. The Christian in me is trying to be obedient to that one commandment.

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Day 22

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Blogtember Challenge · Fiction

Stories From Home – The Thing About Love

It’s my birthday and we’re at a dinner. The music is soft and provocative; his of kind of playlist. He orders us seafood which he gobbles down within a minute. I’m quite sure he knows I hate every bit it. I know I mentioned it on our way here. Calamari rings are rubbery and my tongue cannot withstand the sour taste of mussels. I hate this evening and I cannot wait to get home. I’ll broach the topic tomorrow. Tonight is about him.

Mark is in high spirits tonight and I know it’s not because we’ll finish this dinner at home. It’s her. I have mastered the face he wears when she texts him. He acts composed and pays particular attention to me. He makes all the jokes he can and buys me anything he thinks I’ll like. Tonight is it itself compensating me for his extra marital escapades.

I’m a mad black woman and I’m ready to throw these heels at him. I think I’m going to loosen the straps and hammer his head. What was that Bana Chimbusa taught me? Something about being patient with your man when he’s sleeping with another woman I think. This is hard and I hate having to hide all my pain underneath a smile.

He slides a sloppy hand up my skirt and I stop him. “Not here,” I whisper. He contains it a few more minutes until he decides the urge is too strong and he calls it a night.

I’m having to balance his drunken weight against mine in my six inch heels. We stagger a few more steps and finally make it to the car. I have to drive. I’m livid.

I cruise past the rolling hills and winding roads determined to get home. My mind takes another turn into a bumpy road, pressing the brake pad at every thought of her. Her name is not Lisa, or Natasha. She’s Bwalya- a dignified name. She’s a proper lady with good manners and elegance. Quite the catch if you ask me and I sometimes feel sentimental towards her.

But let me be honest, Mark is a douche and he won’t keep her around for long. They teach men to play but not too far from the lawn because it cushions their fall. I’m that cushion- the wife.

My thoughts bring tears to eyes so I decide it’s time to navigate my way to more pleasant routes. I have our children to care for. The thing about love is that it gives you little human beings that fill your heart with happiness. For a moment you forget your husband’s heart is not with you then you remember again and the pain creeps back in. For the sake of your children you hold on and smile.

The thing about love is that there is a lot of pain to be felt. A lot of tolerance to be made. A lot of ignoring to do.

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When we get home the kids are asleep. Mark kicks off his shoes and loosens his tie as he stumbles through our bedroom door. He grubs me by the waist but I break free from him and decide I’ll spend the night on the couch in the living room.

“Not tonight,” I say.

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Day 21

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Blogtember Challenge · Fiction

Stories From Home – The Distance Between Us

“Marry me Eta!” On my knees, I begged with baited breath. I looked to the sky and saw the eagles circling the sun. They had purpose. As for me, I had never known whom I was meant to be until I saw Eta. Down at the river she balanced the calabash on her head. She treaded her sand encrusted feet across to the banks while I looked on from the bushes a fare distance away. A bit of fear took captive of her. I could tell as her eyes widened in search of the presence that had suddenly descended upon her peaceful realm. I dared not show myself, instead I studied every part of her being as she took off hurriedly, barely covering her modesty. I knew I had to make her mine and mine she became. A hungry man could never sleep hungry, he went into the deepest part of the forest and waited in silence to strike his dinner.

“Shut up, Muna. You and I are from worlds apart. I cannot marry you.” She said unconvincingly.

“How so?”

“I don’t know. We just are. I knew it from the moment I saw you at the river.”

“You saw me? But you never said anything.”

“You are a noble man Muna, but I can’t marry you. I must take my leave now.”

She was the sun she spoke of. My heart was running a pointless race against time. What was this world she lived in that I was not a part of?

“Eta!” I called as I clutched a desperate fist around her arm. She was in the most fragile of states I had ever witnessed. “If there is any love left in you for me, of which I know there is, you will marry me. Your family will prepare for my coming tomorrow.”

“You’re a very poor man. My father will not accept your proposal. Muna you cannot afford my bride price. I dine with the king and his subjects. I rest my head against comfort. I consume the most expensive of beers ever brewed in this village. I’m the daughter of an induna, surely how can a blacksmith like you aspire to marry me? That is the world I speak of and you are not a part of it.” The words cut deep like a spear and left a rippling kind of pain. I felt it once and felt it again and again. It demanded my attention. Love was a thing that did not belong to the poor.

“Why now?” I asked. “I am made for you and you are made for me. The gods of the earth and the rivers proclaimed this to me and you know it Eta! The wind whispered to me, it lifted me off my feet and brought me to you. We cannot rebel against what the gods have ordained lest we die.”

It was true that the spirits had ordained our union.

“I will wait here at dawn, when the cock crows a third time and I do not see your face, I will leave your to enjoy your peace.” I spoke my final words and went on my way. My heart was too heavy to carry. Words left a mark on you that took eternities to erase.

At dusk I waited at our secret place. The cock crowed a tenth time and Eta did not emerge. After a long battle, I accepted her sudden termination of us and turned on my way home only to hear her child like giggle in the darkness. It was Eta.

She was merely testing my persistence.

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Day 20

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Blogtember Challenge

Stories From Home – Ordination Of The Forefathers (Part 2)

I could not leave Zambia’s traditional ceremonies out of the challenge as it would not reflect the spirit of this year’s theme i.e. Africa: Stories From Home. I have selected the most celebrated of ceremonies across the country and hope that you do have fun while reading.

If you missed the first set, please read the prequel here.

3. Nc’wala Ceremony

The Ngoni people arrived in Zambia in the 1800s in a group led by Mpezeni. In fear of being prosecuted by Shaka for rebelling against his cruelty, he fled Kwazulu Natal with throngs of followers. The migration dispersed the group in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and the southern parts of Tanzania. Succession disputes and lack of satisfaction with the terrain in Tanzania forced Mpezeni to take leave once again and trekked down to the eastern parts of Zambia. He settled there with a devout group of followers who, after a prosperous harvest, paid homage to his Highness by offering sacrifices of livestock and fresh crop. The celebration of a good harvest then became a tradition and was soon adopted as the Ngoni people’s official traditional ceremony. The colonial masters unfortunately banned it as it reflected warfare in the songs and dance. It was not until 1980 that the celebrations were reinstated. Every February, Impis (Ngoni warriors) carrying shields and knobkerries clang bells attached to their boots and chant war songs as they await the Mpezeni’s arrival. The pinnacle of the procession is when the Nkhosiyama Nkosi, the king of kings, drinks the blood of a slaughtered black cow as he is the medium between the mortals and the ancestors. Do you think there is more to this ritual than said? I certainly do.

Source: South World

The dance is fierce as the Ngoni warriors adopted the toughest of fighting tactics from the regiments at KwaZulu. The women also join in baring their breasts.

If you ever watched Shaka The Zulu, imagine his strong warriors and relate the scenes in the movie to the Nc’wala Ceremony.

4. Likumbi Lya Mize

If there is a ceremony that does not shy away from displaying witchcraft, it’s Likumbi Lya Mize, held in August by the Luvale speaking people of Northern Western Province. Makishi dancers resurrect from the grave and display their dancing skills at the celebrations. They masquerade themselves in dramatic head gears and facial masks. Some dance atop two poles about 9 meters above the ground without ever falling off. Rumors has it, if they fall they die because they lose their spiritual powers.

Other makishi dancers show off their supernatural abilities by dancing on a mattress floating on the Zambezi river. Might I add, the mattress never sinks.

Source : zambia.travel

What does this ceremony commemorate? It is a coming of age ceremony in honour of boys who’ve passed onto adulthood. The boys known as Mukanda undergo a series of rituals, circumcision being the most important. They are taught how to be hunters, good fathers and honourable men of society.

I’ve only ever seen the beautiful display of this rich ceremony on TV and I have fomo right now.

Fun fact: Likumbi Lya Mize is a World Heritage Ceremony declared by UNESCO. The sophisticated costumes were also given that honour i.e. World Heritage Masks

I could go on sharing stories on how my people give ordination to their forefathers, but I’ll end here for now. I had fun writing this as it was a learning experience for me. Hope you enjoy it too.

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Day 19

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Blogtember Challenge

Stories From Home – Ordination Of The Forefathers (Part 1)

Shaped like a butterfly spreading its wings at the center of the continent, Zambia is a country enriched with natural resources that attracted many a tribe during the Bantu Migrations. Entry into the land occurred at different periods of time and would consequently result in the conquering of smaller or decentralized groups, thereby giving rise to structured kingdoms.

People remember their arrival in Zambia by paying ordinance to their forefathers at traditional ceremonies.

1.Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena

Source: Zambia Let’s Explore

One of the biggest and most centralized societies was the Bemba Kingdom which stretched its ruling fist from the Katanga River in Congo to Lake Tanganyika and far down into the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. During the migrations from the Katanga River, the AbaBemba while crossing the Luapula,Chambishi and Kalunga Rivers encountered a large dead crocodile on the banks. They hence settled in the area and adopted Ng’wena as their clan and village name.

At around August annually, they celebrate the Ukusefya pa Ng’wena traditional ceremony which is a reenactment of their journey into their establishment.

The Bemba chief Chitimukulu is carried by his royal subjects on a hammock that resembles a crocodile.

2. Kuomboka Ceremony

After fleeing Shaka’s cruelty, the Lozis settled around Zambezi River. They were particularly drawn to the fertile soils and animals whose habitation was bordered around the water and named the area Barotseland. At peak rainfall, the water levels rose above normal, causing floods in the Royal Capital Lealui. This forced the residents to relocate to higher dry lands known as Limulunga. Between February and April the flood cycle is reenacted and the royal family sails to safety from the Lealui floodplains to Limulunga. The king is ferried on a luxury boat called Nalikwanda. It is painted black and white representing the waves of the Zambezi. The Queen’s boat is called the Nalwange. When the flood is over, the family sails back to their first palace.

Kuomboka means getting out of the water and is the most celebrated ceremony in Zambia.

Source: Face2Face Africa

Maybe next year when I gather my bravery and enough coins, I will travel to Barotseland to witness the arrival of the Lituanga and his wife at Limulunga. Speculation of myths and rituals surrounding the entire procession linger in the area but I will leave that for next time. Wish me luck as merely penning this piece may haunt me.

I will continue with our traditional ceremonies in the next post. Do enjoy reading as I piece it together.

Also, what ceremonies do you celebrate in your country? Marvel me, I want to know!

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Day 18

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