African Stories Retold

The Truth Teller

Wanjiru frowned and walked away sulkily from the kitchen. Once again she had received a tongue lashing from her mother. ‘You need to watch that sharp mouth of yours’ she had said. ‘How will find a husband?’ Eh?’ she had continued. Then she went on to remind her that sharp tongued women did not make good wives. She did not argue with her mother for she knew how that always ended. Instead she ventured over to her grandmother who sat on the veranda chewing tobacco. ‘You know, she’s wrong’ her grandmother said to her as she sat on the ground next to her. ‘Don’t bend the truth to make others happy. It never serves you or them in the end’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t forgive you if you ended up with that little twit.’ Wanjiru had spurned the attention of the village chief’s obnoxious only son in front of his friends. When she told her grandmother how he had scurried back to his father’s compound and locked himself in the chicken coop, they laughed uncontrollably.


The Forgotten One

Muthoni grew up a tiny village hidden in the dense forests of Mount Kenya. She was one of ten children. As a middle child she felt lost and neglected. Muthoni had a keen sense of adventure often easily bored by the things that captured the attention of the other children around her. She would steal away disappearing into the forest for long periods of time only to return to find that no one had noticed her absence. On one of those solo adventures she ventured out so far that she could not find her way back. After going round and round the same area she finally sat down at the bottom of large tree and started think of her family. She was cold, alone and afraid. She wept as she pictured her siblings all huddled around the fire in her grandmother’s hut listening to her stories of old then she cried herself to sleep. Some time later she woke up in a jolt to find herself cradled in her father’s strong arms as he carried through the forest accompanied by men from her village. She hugged him tightly in gratitude and relief for she thought she was lost forever. All the rest of the villagers who gathered in their homestead let out large cries of jubilation upon their arrival. He looked up at her father and apologized for causing so much trouble. ‘I did not think you would know I was missing?’ she said. He shook his head. ‘You foolish little girl how could I not miss one of my jewels? he asked. She was confused. ‘But I go out everyday and no one notices’ she replied. ‘That’s what you think but today you went too far and you brother lost you’ he said. That was when she found out how much her father had liked her sense of adventure and had charged her brother with watching over her every time she went out. Indeed she had been a very foolish little girl.


Ostrich Baby

Once upon a time in there woman who had been married for sometime to a young man from a neighboring village. She was having some major fertility issues which was not an excuse that the parents of the young man thought was valid. She was very close to being put out. She would cry every night and every morning on her way to fetch water.  She would stop at the gigantic sacred Mugumo tree and offer up a prayer. The other women in the village would tease and mock her daily. One morning on her way back from fetching water she heard the cries of an infant. She quickly put down her water pot and searched the grass the lined the path. It wasn’t long before she found a tiny baby nestled in the broken shells of a large ostrich egg. She picked the baby up and at hightailed it home leaving her water pot by the road side. When her husband came home that evening she presented him with the baby telling him that God had answered her prayers. He was relieved that his family would stop harassing him and that he would not have to get back to the dating scene. They hid the baby until they could no longer do so and when the villagers asked whose baby that was they owned up to it offering no explanation as to where she came from. The villagers did not press the matter as long as all the other babies in the village were accounted for.




The Way Home

I am sure you have heard of the story of Kariuki and Shiru two children whose parents were farmers during a major famine in Kiambu. They had the misfortune of having a step mother who wasn’t very fond of them. As the story goes she convinced her reluctant husband to abandon them in the forest so they would have enough to eat. And after putting up not much of a fight he agreed. Unbeknownst to them Kariuki overheard this conversation and thought ‘that b**ch.’ He decided there and then that he wasn’t going to be dumped in the forest to starve to death so left a trail of crumbs of doma (arrowroot) on the way to the forest so he and his sister could find their way back home. Not a great plan since they were eaten by animals. Then these poor children end up being lured by a witch who intends to trap, fatten and eat them at some point. They manage to trick her into falling into the fire and return home with a fortune to find their father is now a widow and pining after them.

inspired by Hansel and Gretel by Jacob Ludwig Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm



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