M’bobe

(Scene 5)

       an excerpt from Kaulini, a play written by Wongile Mbano

There is a procession of women carrying clay pots on their head with hot Chindongwa[1] inside it.  The women are singing songs.

Wamaka: There is a m’bobe near. Grab a stone. (quickly grabs a stone and places it on her head)

Yalenga: Why?

Wam: Do you know nothing? A m’bobe is a flying snake. The hot porridge in their pots is to kill it. It must be in this vicinity. In the time I’m wasting explaining the m’bobe would have flown in and hit your head and you have died instantly. Grab a stone!

(Yalenga grabs a stone and places it on her head.)

Yal: You are from Kaulimi? What are you doing so far from there?

Wam: One of our mothers died, so I went to give the death announcement to her family. Her family resides in Chinteche near the river Luweya. A few moons ago, the Ngoni tried to invade the people there. The river Luweya has long grass that covers the river so it looks justlike a field of grass but underneath there is water. The villagers know that but the Ngoni did not. When the Ngoni were invading the Tonga went to the other side of the river. The Ngoni mistook the river covered with the grass for a field of grass and they drowned.

Yalenga laughs. They see a snake jump into one of the pots from a tree.  The women sing louder; cheering and laughing. The woman whose pot it went into lowers the pot to confirm its dead. The women turn back to their village.

Yalenga: How did you kill the leopard that you are wearing?

Wam: I shot an arrow through its heart.

Yalenga: Was it attacking you?

Wamaka: It attacked one of the mothers at Kaulimi.

Yalenga: So you were in the distance and shot your arrow?

Wamaka: Yes I was in the distance. I saw the leopard attacking her.

Yalenga: So just one arrow killed it?

Wamaka: You ask so many questions.

Yalenga: I want to learn how to use the arrow or spear or anything to defend myself. When the Ngoni I felt so defenceless as I watched them snatch my family from me. I don’t want to ever feel like that again.

Wamaka: You won’t. Everyone at Kaulimi has to know how to protect themselves. There are many animals. And threats of war from spurned husbands whose wives have left them.

[1]Mild malt beer.

Wongile Mbano is a Writer, Actress and Activist. She studied Drama and Literature at University of Malawi. She has a passion for gender justice and the rights for indigenous peoples. Read Wongile’s short story, Ebola, on Afreecan Read.