Utushimi: The Tears Of A Mother (#WinterABC- Day 21)

It’s day 21 out of 22 days of the WinterABC Challenge. They say time flies when we are having fun and no truer words can be said about how fast the weeks have gone by.

As this is storytelling week, please gather around our virtual fire as we journey through another amazing akashimi.

Story 2: The Tears Of A Mother

Pali Akantuse

(Readers respond: Kaikele ngefi fine twilkele)

If you do not know what these words mean, please read the intro to yesterday’s akashimi here

Chibeka, don’t forget to fetch the water later today”, instructed Bana Chibeka (meaning: Mother to Chibeka) as she was knitting on the veranda of their house. Chibeka was not only an obedient child but she was also very beautiful, some would say she was the most beautiful girl in the land. It was indeed befitting that her mother called her Chibeka – a bemba name that means Shining.

Chibeka went to the hut and picked the insupa (calabash), waved her mama goodbye and headed to village river to fetch the water. Bana Chibeka had finished knitting and was now cooking supper when she realized Chibeka had taken an awkwardly long time to return from the river. She did not worry and continued cooking.

The sun had started setting when worry creeped into Bana Chibeka. This delay was unlike her Chibeka who would always return home before the sun set. Bana Chibeka, a single mother with Chibeka being her only child, begun to relentlessly search for her daughter.

She went to the river but could not see her daughter, she asked the neighbours but none were helpful in the search for Chibeka. Bana Chibeka, determined to find her daughter, went and sat at the banks of the river yelling for Chibeka, hoping she would hear her call and return home.

Between the yelling and crying, Bana Chibeka didnot notice that the night had gone by and the sun was no rising. As she saw other girls, Chibeka’s age come to the river to fetch morning water, her heart was filled with immense grief and abandonment.

Bana Chibeka was in a state of hopelessness when she begun to mourn the unknown whereabouts of Chibeka, cursing the village with the following song:

Ne nama shine, ka shifwe shibole, ngo mwana wandi … Chibeka wandi

Meaning: let all animals die and rot in the same way my daughter Chibeka has died …

She continued to sing this song as she headed back to her hut and as she sung all the animals in the village begun to die. Days went by and she continued mourning hoping the neighbours would now care about her grief and assist with her search. This did not happen. So again, she begun to mourn and sing:

Nabantu bonse, ka bafwe ba bole, ngo mwana wandi … Chibeka wandi ...

Meaning: let all the people die and rot in the same way my daughter Chibeka has died …

As she sung this song, all the people of the village begun to die. Some were pleading for her to stop singing but their cries were silenced by her grief.

Bana Chibeka then sung one last verse:

Na ine wine, nka mfwe noku bola … ngo mwana wandi … Chibeka wandi…

Meaning: Let me also die and rot like in the same way my daughter Chibeka died

With this last verse, Bana Chibeka also died.


Lesson/VIiews: To be honest, when I was younger I never knew if this story ever came with an underlying lesson. I was always more intrigued by the singing. I would always ask questions like, but what really happened to Chibeka? – that still remains a mystery. Legends have it that there is a land in an unknown place that remain unoccupied , this land is believed to be cursed by the tears of Bana Chibeka.

The older I grow and in light of the mental health awareness advanced, I believe a notable lesson from this story is the importance of being there for others. If you notice, Bana Chibeka’s neighbours were unhelpful and uncaring and this triggered feelings of pain and abandonment that led to her cursing the land.

Thankyou for reading!

Until next time,

Live long & read on!