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Kaffir (Xhosa) Folk-Lore, by George McCall Theal, [1886], at


HERE was once a man living in a certain place, who had two daughters big enough to be married.

One day the man went over the river to another village, which was the residence of a great chief The people asked him to tell them the news. He replied, that there was no news in the place that he came from. Then the man inquired about the news of their place. They said the news of their place was that the chief wanted a wife.

The man went home and said to his two daughters: "Which of you wishes to be the wife of a chief?"

The eldest replied: "I wish to be the wife of a chief, my father." The name of that girl was Mpunzikazi.

The man said: "At that village which I visited, the chief wishes for a wife; you, my daughter, shall go."

The man called all his friends, and assembled a large company to go with his daughter to the village of the chief. But the girl would not consent that those people should go with her.

She said: "I will go alone to be the wife of the chief."

Her father replied: "How can you, my daughter, say such a thing? Is it not so that when a girl goes to present herself to her husband she should be accompanied by others? Be not foolish, my dauahter."

The girl still said: "I will go alone to be the wife of the chief."

Then the man allowed his daughter to do as she chose. She went alone, no bridal party accompanying her, to present herself at the village of the chief who wanted a wife.

As Mpunzikazi was in the path, she met a mouse.

The mouse said: "Shall I show you the way?"

The girl replied: "Just get away from before my eyes."

The mouse answered If you do like this, you will not succeed."

Then she met a frog.

The frog said: "Shall I show you the way?"

Mpunzikazi replied: "You are not worthy to speak to me, as I am to be the wife of a chief."

The frog said: "Go on then; you will see afterwards what will happen."

When the girl got tired, she sat down under a tree to rest. A boy who was herding goats in that place came to her, he being very hungry.

The boy said: "Where are you going to, my eldest sister? "

Mpunzikazi replied in an angry voice: "Who are you that you should speak to me? just get away from before me."

The boy said: "I am very hungry; will you not give me of your food? "

She answered "Get away quickly."

The boy said: "You will not return if you do this."

She went on her way again, and met with an old woman sitting by a big stone.

The old woman said: "I will give you advice. You will meet with trees that will laugh at you: you must not laugh in return. You will see a bag of thick milk: you must not eat of it. You will meet a man whose head is under his arm: you must not take water from him."

Mpunzikazi answered: "You ugly thing! who are you that you should advise me? "

The old woman continued in saying those words.

The girl went on. She came to a place where were many trees. The trees laughed at her, and she laughed at them in return. She saw a bag of thick milk, and she ate of it. She met a man carrying his head under his arm, and she took water to drink from him.

She came to the river of the village of the chief. She saw a girl there dipping water from the river. The girl said: "Where are you going to, my sister? "

Mpunzikazi replied: "Who are you that you should callme sister? I am going to be the wife of a chief."

The girl drawing water was the sister of the chief. She said: "Wait, I will give you advice. Do not enter the village by this side."

Mpunzikazi did not stand to listen, but just went on.

She reached the village of the chief. The people asked her where she came from and what she wanted.

She answered: "I have come to be the wife of the chief."

They said: "Who ever saw a girl go without a retinue to be a bride? "

They said also: "The chief is not at home; you must prepare food for him, that when he comes in the evening he may eat."

They gave her millet to grind. She ground it very coarse, and made bread that was not nice to eat.

In the evening she heard the sound of a great wind. That wind was the coming of the chief. He was a big snake with five heads and large eyes. Mpunzikazi was very much frightened when she saw him. He sat down before the door and told her to bring his food. She brought the bread which she had made. Makanda Mahlanu (Five Heads) was not satisfied with that bread. He said: "You shall not be my wife," and he struck her with his tail and killed her.

Afterwards the sister of Mpunzikazi said to her father: "I also wish to be the wife of a chief."

Her father replied: "It is well, my daughter; it is right that you should wish to be a bride."

The man called all his friends, and a great retinue prepared to accompany the bride. The name of the girl was Mpunzanyana.

In the way they met a mouse.

The mouse said: "Shall I show you the road? "

Mpunzanyana replied: "If you will show me the way I shall be glad."

Then the mouse pointed out the way.

She came into a valley, where she saw an old woman standing by a tree.

The old woman said to her: "You will come to a place where two paths branch off. You must take the little one, because if you take the big one you will not be fortunate."

Mpunzanyana replied: "I will take the little path, my mother." She went on.

Afterwards she met a cony.

The cony said: "The village of the chief is close by. You will meet a by the river: you must speak nicely to her. They will give you millet to grind: you must grind it well. When you see your husband, you must not be afraid."

She said: "I will do as you say, cony."

In the river she met the chief's sister carrying water.

The chief's sister said: "Where are you going to?"

Mpunzanyana replied: "This is the end of my journey."

The chief's sister said: "What is the object of your coming to this place? "

Mpunzanyana replied: "I am with a bridal party. "

The chiers, sister said: "That is right, but will you not be afraid when you see your husband? "

Mpunzanyana answered: "I will not be afraid."

The chief's sister pointed out the hut in which she should stay. Food was given to the bridal party. The mother of the chief took millet and gave to the bride, saying:,You must prepare food for your husband. He is not here now, but he will come in the evening."

In the evening she heard a very strong wind, which made the hut shake. The poles fell, but she did not run out. Then she saw the chief Makanda Mahlanu coming. He asked for food. Mpunzanyana took the bread which she had made, and gave it to him. He was very much pleased with that food, and said:

"You shall be my wife." He gave her very many ornaments.

Afterwards Makanda Mahlanu became a man, and Mpunzanyana continued to be the wife he loved best.

Next: The Story Of Tangalimlibo