A GREAT READ FOR ALL AGES
Within these 438 pages you will find 20 chapters filled with almost 200 stories selected from across Southern Africa - of prophets, doctors, witches, chameleons, the legend of Ngeketo, baboons, the Zulu Tokoloshe, Sikulokobuzuka, the road and the climb to heaven, the daughter of the Sun and the Moon, half-men, avengers of blood, the African Brer rabbit, frogs, war and death, lightning birds, cannibals, jackals, ogres, how the leopard got his spots, were-wolves, tortoises and lions and the practical jokes they played on each other; and many, many more to keep a young audience captivated for hours.,/p>
While this volume contains the, sometimes, quaint, unusual and certainly entertaining myths and legends of the native peoples of Southern Africa, it also contains sufficient sources, referential material and explanatory notes to satisfy serious students and academics alike.
IN the 19th C. BANTU was the generally accepted name for those natives of South Africa (the great majority) who are neither Hottentots nor Bushmen-that is to say, mainly, the Zulus, Xosas, Basuto, and Bechuana -to whom may be added the Thongas (Shangaans) of the Delagoa Bay region and the people of (then Southern Rhodesia, now) Zimbabwe.
NOTE: Southern Africa consists of 13 sovereign states and covers an area of approximately 9,276 million kilometres². By comparison the USA is a little larger at 9,826 million kilometres².
Abantu is the Zulu word for 'the people' (in Sesuto batho, and in Herero ovandu) which was adopted by Bleek, at the suggestion of Sir George Grey, as the name for the great family of languages now known to cover practically the whole southern half of Africa. But to speak of a 'Bantu race' is misleading. The Bantu-speaking peoples vary greatly in physical stature: some of them hardly differ from some of the 'Sudanic'-speaking Negroes of West Africa, while others show a type which has been accounted for by a probable 'Hamitic' invasion from the north. It is needless to say that they come with a plethora of myths and legends. Some adapted and modified from others and some entirely home-grown.
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Excerpt from BANTU MYTHS AND LEGENDS
KALUNGA OF THE AMBUNDU
Note: The Ambundu of Angola speak of Kalunga, a word which means the King of the Netherworld.
ONCE UPON A TIME Kitamba was a chief who lived at Kasanji. He lost his head-wife, Queen Muhongo, and mourned for her many days. Not only did he mourn himself, but he insisted on his people sharing his grief. "My village, too, no man shall do anything therein. The young people shall not shout; the women shall not pound; no one shall speak in the village." His headmen remonstrated with him, but Kitamba was obdurate, and declared that he would neither speak nor eat nor allow anyone else to do so till his queen was restored to him. The headmen consulted together, and called in a 'doctor' (kimbanda). Having received his fee (first a gun, and then a cow) and heard their statement of the case, he said, "All right," and set off to gather herbs. These he pounded in a 'medicine-mortar,' and, having prepared some sort of decoction, ordered the king and all the people to wash themselves with it. He next directed some men to "dig a grave in my guest-hut at the fireplace," which they did, and he entered it with his little boy, giving two last instructions to his wife: to leave off her girdle (i.e., to dress negligently, as if in mourning) and to pour water every day on the fireplace. Then the men filled in the grave. The doctor saw a road open before him; he walked along it with his boy till he came to a village, where he found Queen Muhongo sitting, sewing a basket, She saw him approaching, and asked, "Whence comest thou? " He answered, in the usual form demanded by native politeness, "Thou thyself, I have sought thee.
Since thou art dead King Kitamba will not eat, will not drink, will not speak. In the village they pound not; they speak not; he says, 'If I shall talk, if I eat, go ye and fetch my head-wife.' That is what brought me here. I have spoken."
The queen then pointed out a man seated a little way off, and asked the doctor who he was. As he could not say, she told him, "He is Lord Kalunga-ngombe; he is always consuming us, us all." Directing his attention to another man", who was chained, she asked if he knew him, and he answered, "He looks like King Kitamba, whom I left where I came from." It was indeed Kitamba, and the queen further informed the messenger that her husband had not many years to live, and also that "Here in Kalunga never comes one here to return again. She gave him the armlet which had been buried with her, to show to Kitamba as a proof that he had really visited the abode of the dead, but enjoined on him not to tell the king that he had seen him there. And he must not eat anything. in Kalunga; otherwise he would never be permitted to return to earth.
Meanwhile the doctor's wife had kept pouring water on the grave. One day she saw the earth beginning to crack; the cracks opened wider, and, finally, her husband's head appeared. He gradually made his way out, and pulled his small-son up after him. The child fainted when he came out into the sunlight, but his father washed him with some 'herb-medicine,' and soon brought him to.
Next day the doctor went to the headmen, presented his report, was repaid with two slaves, and returned to his home. The headmen told Kitamba what he had said, and produced the token. The only comment he is recorded to have made, on looking at the armlet, is "Truth, it is the same." Kitamba made no further difficulty about eating or drinking. "