Old Clothes, a Kikongo Tale

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Illustration from ‘Mataya, Les Vieux Vetements’, ContAfrica.org

There once was a woman who loved to keep her old clothes while sometimes buying new ones which she never wore because she preferred the old ones.

One day, she received the news of her mother’s passing. To attend the funerals, she decided to change her look. She wore new clothes, and took great care of herself, and carefully folded the old ones away.

When she started to go to the funerals, the old clothes thought and said: “We have always been together. Now, for your mother’s funerals, you want to leave us behind? No. We will follow you.”

When she stepped out, the clothes followed her and started to sing: “You did not leave us before, but today, you leave your old clothes at home; we will follow you to your mother’s funerals (2 bis).”

Congo_bust of a Kongo girl ca 1910
Bust from a Kongo woman, ca 1910

The lady walked, walked, walked, and once at her mother’s funerals, she entered. The people did not like what they saw and said: “You are very elegant, but what is that bunch of clothes doing here?”

But those who knew her said: “No. She dressed this way and the old clothes followed her because she never used to wear new clothes. She always dressed in old clothes. She never changed because she did not like new clothes.”

Ashamed to hear this, the lady decided to change. She stopped wearing, exclusively old clothes, and started to vary, wearing sometimes old, sometimes new clothes.

Morale: Attachment to old habits leads to spiritual and material poverty.

This is a Kikongo tale from the Uíge province of Angola. The original in Kikongo, as well as the first image, can be found on CONTAFRICA. The English translation is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com.

The Quest for a Fiancée

African princess
African princess

One day, two young men went looking for their future wife. They went towards the village and found a young girl. They were well received by her family who killed a chicken and offered it to them in a good meal.

While eating, one of them, thinking himself more clever, while the other was distracted, put his chicken bones in the other’s plate.

pouleFor desert, they were given peanuts (jinguba), the young man who thought himself more clever, did it again. After eating his peanuts, he would throw the peelings under the legs of his friend when he was distracted. Once the meal finished, the father of the young girl said:

My daughter will marry the one who ate and left the chicken bones and peanuts peelings. I do not want for in-law the one who has swallowed everything.

Thus, the young girl was given to the one who had been trapped by his friend.

Morale of the tale: Caution, do not try to trap your neighbor, for it could turn against you!

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Sera de Leba in Huíla province, Angola (source: Panoramio.com)

This is an Olunyaneka tale from Lubango in the Huíla province of Angola. The original in Portuguese can be found on CONTAFRICA. The English translation is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com.