Africa | Theal: The Story of the Glutton

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The Story of the Glutton

THERE was once a man who quarrelled with his wife, so that she left him, and went home to her father's place.

When she got home she found nobody, for all the people had been swallowed by a monster. She went into the house that used to be her father's, and noticed that there were footprints of animals and spots of blood all over the floor. She then got into the top of the hut and hid herself. She heard the monster corning, saying:

"O man, O man,
I have eaten,
And I am still living."

She kept awake. Shortly the house was filled with all kinds of animals, which made a fire, cooked their food, ate it up, and slept. Next morning they awoke, and all went out to search for something to eat.

The woman had two children born while the animals were away. She came down from her hiding-place, and took up a stone used for raising pots above the fire [called isoko], and went again into her hiding-place.

The animals returned in the evening; and while their pots were on the fire, she threw down the stone into one of them. The animals all rushed out of the house. Outside they held a consultation, and their chief decided that those living in holes should go to the holes, that those living in forests should go to the forests, and that those living in rivers should go to the rivers.

After this, the woman set a trap, and succeeded in catching a buffalo, but she could not skin it. She saw a glutton [called an igongqongqo, a fabulous monster, like a man, but capable of devouring enormous quantities of food] coming, and asked him to help her. He consented.

He pulled out his knife and skinned the buffalo. She gathered some wood, and kindled a fire for the purpose of roasting the liver. The glutton roasted it. She went away and picked up an empty calabash, and when she returned she found the glutton roasting the legs, having already eaten the liver. She then said I am going for water."

She ot behind a bush, and blew the empty calabash. The glutton wondered what this was, and called her. She continued blowing until the glutton was so frightened that he took his bag and put the remainder of the meat into it, and ran away.

She followed him, still blowing, until he threw away the bag containing the meat. She still followed, blowing. The glutton stumbled, and fell into a thorny bush, where he was held fast. The woman then ceased blowing, and heard him blubbering out:

"Let me alone, lu bo bo,
Let me alone, lu bo bo."

She blew again, and he struggled and got free. He ran away with all his might. She then took the bag home with her, made a fire, and cooked the meat. When it was ready, she took it to her hiding-place, and lived on it till her children were able to run about outside.

One day, these twins asked their mother to make bows and arrows for them. Their mother advised them not to wander away from the house, saying to them The glutton will swallow you."

But at a certain time they left home, and went in the direction where the monster lived. They found it asleep, and shot it with their arrows in both eyes. The boys returned home and told their mother. Next day they went to the place, and found the glutton dead.

The boys heard people talking inside the glutton. Having told their mother, she took a knife and cut it open, when people came out, and cattle, and dogs. The people asked: Who killed the glutton?"

The mother of the twins told them, and they rewarded the boys with a large number of cattle.

The text came from:

Theal, Georg McCall. Kaffir Folk-LoreLondon: S. Sonnenschein, Le Bas & Lowrey, 1886. Buy the book in paperback.


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