Kikuyu - Fables and Legends

The Origin of Death (2)

From Rose Mwangi's "Kikuyu Folktales: their Nature and Value" (1970, 1983: Kenya Literature Bureau, PO Box 30022 Nairobi, Kenya). See the copyright notice for textual extracts.

The Origin of Death (2), collected by Rose Mwangi

In another version, it is Riua (Sun) the King of the Earth who lives at Kirinyaga who came to earth and found the chief's son dead. The chief told the King that death had become a great problem to his people. And Riua the King said:

'Give me a messenger, I will give him a medicinal powder from Kirinyaga. This powder will be put in the fire and when people smell its smoke, they will never die again.'

The chief chose the squirrel and when the women saw the squirrel dressed up to go with Riua the King, they were jubilant and ululated: 'Aririririi-ri-i'. The squirrel appreciated with Hii-hi! Yiii-hi! and went off with Riua to Kirinyaga.
   Now when the squirrel was coming from Kirinyaga, carrying the medicinal powder, he met Mr. Hyena who was also going to Kirinyaga to get the same powder for his own personal use. He saw the squirrel and became jealous. So Mr. Hyena assaulted the squirrel and threw the powder into the swift-flowing river. He then went back to earth.
   The squirrel was worried; and so he returned back to Riua, the King, to report what Mr. Hyena had done. Then the King was angry and said:

'You squirrel, you failed in a mission entrusted to you for the people. With a curse, I charge you to remove yourself from the people and remain forever in holes in the soil. As for the hyena, he has from now on become an enemy of the people'.


Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
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