Sakuma tribe woman from Tanzania and her kids. Sukuma creation narrative of Masala Kulangwa (literally ‘the clever young man’ or ‘the one who is quick to learn’), which is the traditional narrative which most Sukuma would identify with. The text of the narrative, from Healey & Sybertz (1996: 64-65) is as follows:
Once upon a time, the monster Shing’weng’we swallowed the domestic animals together with all
the people in the world except for one pregnant woman who hid in a pile of chaff. Later this woman gave
birth to a boy named Masala Kulangwa. When he grew up he asked: ‘Mother, why are there only the two of us? Where are the other people?’ She answered: ‘my dear one, everyone else was swallowed by the monster Shing’weng’we. We are the only ones left.
From that day on, the clever young man started looking for the monster. One day he killed a grasshopper and arrived home singing: ‘Mother, Mother, I have killed Shing’weng’we up in the hills.
Rejoice and shout for joy.’ But his Mother answered: ‘My dear one, this is only a grasshopper, not the monster. Let’s roast and eat it.’
Another day he killed a bird and arrived home singing: ‘Mother, Mother, I have killed Shing’weng’we up in the hills. Rejoice and shout for joy.’ But his mother answered: ‘My dear one, this is
only a bird, not the monster. Let’s roast it and eat it.’
Another day, he killed a small gazelle and arrived home singing: ‘Mother, Mother, I have killed Shing’weng’we up in the hills. Rejoice and shout for joy.’ But his Mother answered: ‘My dear one, this is
only an antelope, not the monster, let’s roast and eat it’.
When Masala Kulangwa grew to manhood, he told his mother that he wanted to go and look for the monster. At first she did not want him to go, but finally she agreed. Then he went out into the forest to look for the monster. Masala Kulangwa shouted, ‘Hey, you, Shing’weng’we.’ The monster answered, ‘It’s me’, in a voice so loud that the earth shook. The clever young man was terrified, but he gritted his teeth and did not turn back.
Finally Masala Kulangwa found Shing’weng’we, overcame him, killed him and cut open the monster’s back. Out came his father along with his relatives and all the other people. By bad luck, when he cut open the monster’s back, Masala Kulangwa severed the ear of an old woman with his knife. This woman became very angry and insulted the young man. She tried to bewitch him and kill him. But Masala Kulangwa was guarded by his many friends, and she failed to harm him. Afterwards he found medicine and healed the old woman. Then all the people declared the clever young man chief and raised him up in the Chief’s chair. Masala Kulangwa became the chief of the whole world, and his mother became the Queen mother. "
BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah