Kikuyu - Fables and Legends

Nyaga and Wamweru

From "Gikuyu Oral Literature", by Wanjiki Mukabi Kabira and Kerega wa Muthahi (1988: East African Educational Publishers, PO Box 45314 Nairobi, Kenya). See the copyright notice for textual extracts.

Nyaga and Wamweru, by Muthee Mugo

A man had two wives. The first wife gave birth to a boy she called Nyaga and a girl called Wamweru. The other gave birth to a girl called Wacici. The first wife died. Nyaga used to look after his father's animals. The two girls used to stay at home. The father decided that he would decorate the girl who had lost her mother. She was brought laces. The girl was given necklaces and beads. The other women was angry because the same was not done to her daughter.
   Now the mother discussed with the daughter and decided to bury the other girl so that the girl could do what with this stool? Sit on it. Now Wacici and the mother dug a hole in the store, it was Wacici and the mother who did this. Wamweru was sent and she never imagined that a hole had been dug. Wacici took the stool. She sat on it. Now the girl came and asked for her stool and it was refused with. She was asked by the step mother "why are you asking for the stool". Sit on that oiled skin. It is better than this stool. Now the girl went and did what? She sat on the skin. She sank. They covered the hole. She was buried with the skin. She was buried.
   Haya, the other girl stayed there with the mother. They cooked. They cooked, the young man Nyaga came. He sat down, when he sat down he asked "Where is Wamweru?" he was told "I sent Wamweru", they ate the food. They ate the food. Wamweru had not come. The next day the boy asked her where did Wamweru go? And because he used to stay in the garden at night to check the animals, he was told "Wamweru did not sleep here. I don't know where she is, may be she got married", ai, she has stayed. He sat down. He was told the father was not at home. When the father came and asked where the girl was, he was told that she had been sent and didn't come back. The woman said that may be the girl got married. Now the father stayed and knew that the girl was lost completely. He said, "I shall move from this home where my child got lost, I wouldn't want anything like this to happen". They left the place. When they moved, a big bush grew up where the home was. Now this boy used to go there to graze his goats, as they wanted to enter into the bush he told them:

You Gacheru, don't go into that Iganjo (bushes that grow on an old homestead)

The girl who was underground heard and said:

You child who abuses the goat?
we used to drink blood together?
We used to drink, I was buried by your mother
because of beads,
divider of milk.

The girl sang from underground, the boy was silent. He shouted at the goats again.

Hi Gacheru don't go to that Iganjo.

The girl sang again

Hi Gacheru don't go to that Iganjo.

The girl sang again. The boy kept quiet and brought home the livestock. He told the father, "Father our girl who got lost has been singing. Let us go tomorrow and you listen". That is how the father went with the child. He went and they shouted at the goat.

You Gacheru don't go into that bush where people got lost

The girl sang:

Hi Gacheru don't go into that Iganjo

The girl sang again

Hi Gacheru don't go into that Iganjo

The girl sang again

Haya, the man got sticks and made a ladder and went down the hole, he went and the girl came up. "I have nothing, I am naked". He came and brought her clothes now the girl did what? She came out and she was taken out and brought to the garden. The boy took the livestock home, the man prepared his daughter. She vomited, she vomited soil and all the beads that she ate when she was underground. The decorations she had been wearing.
   The man called all the animals. Now the man went home, ugali was prepared for him by that woman. He told the woman and the daughter to eat the ugali. The mother became a hyena and the girl a fox.

My story ends there.


Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

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