Three weeks had transpired since Mafumbo last saw his wife. He really loved her, and the more she was away, the more the ache of missing her grew. Having married just a year ago, things were still not settled in their young union. There were things they both still needed to work on and as individuals mature. He was a hot-head and head-strong; whereas she was a one who could give you a piece of her tongue until the ground just swallowed you up to save you from more tongue bashing. They had disagreed on an issue to do with some Ksh.10,000, which she had sent to her mother without his consent whereas they had agreed the money was for ploughing the hired one acre shamba belonging to Wambilianga, son of Walekabusuma. A seemingly simple argument turned into a violent confrontation. Mafumbo, who could not hold back to the hot insults poured on him by his wife lashed out and gave her two good slaps in quick succession, which put her out. He regretted it immediately, having not hit a woman before. On regaining her wits, she packed a few of her belongings and hurriedly left.
He later learnt from her relatives and friends that she was at her mother’s home, a half day’s walking journey from their new home. That relieved him momentarily because he had feared she went into a simba belonging to one of the basumba, who still pursued her. She was a beautiful woman, with a light skin complexion and generous sitting allowance that she swayed with pride like a peacock, wherever she walked. Nasambu, or simply Julie as he liked to call her was his conquest, and it made him proud wherever he walked down the village or when he made reference on her. His rivals hated and admired him in equal measure, because they would have loved to be in his position, but had lost the opportunity. And oh my, the girl could dance! She loved fun and had a cheerful spirit, a good company to be with anytime. It was her quick temper and rapid mouth that was a minus, but a balance to one’s character as any other. We all have the good and bad side, depending on circumstances.
The thought of losing Nasambu…
After 3 weeks of futile attempts to convince her to come back, using emissaries and numerous gifts to woo her to no avail, until he finally had it. Either, her mother was against her going back to their home, or someone was poisoning her mind and turning her against him. It suddenly hit him hard that after just one year in marriage with nothing to show, he may lose her…maybe even get divorced! That very thought got him straight out of his stupor and he went to Omusakhulu Okhanyikina Barasa for busaa, to calm his nerves and rethink. He made up his mind as he drowned several kimbos of the local brew; then that he will confront the witch woman (mother in law) who was about to ruin his marriage. As busaa went in, his seething anger and hatred for her grew. He imagined the unthinkable concerning her. He realised he never actually liked her, especially after that day she chased him through her banana plantation, through a number of village homesteads when she caught him courting her daughter. They laughed at it later, but the embarrassment and being a laughing stock in the village always caused bile to rise in his stomach. He hated to remember it.
The midnight visit to mother in law
Midnight of that same night found him at Mai Nabwami’s homestead. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. He summoned Ole Matope, her old faithful big black dog and after playing around with it for a few a short while (already he had built acquaintance with it) in the bushes near the main gate to the homestead, he threw a big jaw bone he had picked for it to chew and enjoy in the night. One problem solved, he moved to the second phase. Cautiously, he walked towards the main door, ensuring no one saw him, as he closely hugged the lantana live fence and keeping to the deep shadows. Finally, after confirming all was set, even peeping through the wooden bedroom windows to hear the two women snore away in slumber, he finally positioned himself for action. Balancing his two feet perfectly at the centre of the main entrance, he unbuckled his belt, pulled down his pants and went on to relieve himself (both long and shot calls of nature). As his bowels emptied two days of an adult’s well fed man waste to the door step, a smile of satisfaction cracked his strained face. Later, after ensuring everything is downloaded, and tasting the foul smell of his own shit and piss, he stood up, stepped forward and buckled up his pants.
Some demon suddenly seemed to possess him and drive his emotions to overdrive. Right there, where Mai Nabwami dried her cassava, sorghum, maize for grinding; and sat with family and guests late evenings to contemplate the day; he turned it into a stomping ground. Clapping his hands rhythmically, he chanted traditional war songs as he called out her name, likening her to an enemy. He accused her as the reason why his wife could come back to her, and bewitching their marriage that they had not got a child of their own to date. He raged on and on, completely lost in the emotions and intoxications of the moment. It was only the creaking of the front door and sight of some lighting from the echumuni (latern) that he got back to his senses and scumpered into the bushes nearby, fading into the clasp of darkness.
Mai Nabwami’s call of distress
Mai Nabwami was not amused by the sudden and rude awakening she got deep in the night. She knew of no mortal enemies who wanted to fight her. Seeing her own son-in-law, recognizable from the voice and little light that prevailed that night, she was dumb-founded, and touched herself to confirm she was indeed awake and not in a wild dream. The stench of the pile of fresh human waste at the door set in after the first shock, and she quickly closed the door to cut it off from poisoning the air inside her simple house.‘Wele papa, what abomination is this?’ she asked herself, amidst sobs as she grasped exactly what had transpired. Not able to hold on any more, she went through the back door and out there in the garden, and lit it rip. Her call of distress roused the whole village, who hastened to her home stead to find out what had befallen her at such a time in the night. She was a peaceful, simple woman, loved by all musirekere.
100 cane strokes on Mafumbo’s backside
Quickly, everything was added up to a satisfactory case against Mafumbo, who has just done an abominable act against his own Mai omukhwe (mother-in-law). This was unheard of in the village of Siumbwa, and even surrounding villages. A decree was made by the village Chief, who had made way to Mai Nabwami’s home that dawn; that Mafumbo had to be found and held accountable for his abominable actions. At such moments of crisis, the unity of the people is strong and the resolve to find Mafumbo, get him to face the law of the people was welcomed by all. Sooner than later, Mafumbo was brought, after getting caught dead asleep in the maize field, seemingly too exhausted for the nights exertions. He was taken to his mother’s in law home, where clansmen awaited to administer the rule of the people that was used to govern the people, and as required by tradition and culture.
The fight beaten out of him, Mafumbo looked down shame faced as the elders condemned him and the villages rebuked him. Even his wife hid away from the whole scandal, too shamed to be associated with him then. The children looked curiously at him, wondering what had happened to their hero. Yes, Mafumbo was popular in the village; being a musician, artist, comedian and good wrestler. He was their champion wherever ceremonies were called and people needed to rise to accession and entertain or speak. Finally, the verdict was out: Mafumbo was to get 100 strokes of cane on his backside, and pay 5 milking cattle as fine to his mother in law, in addition to publicly apologizing to her for his archaic and barbaric act. It was either this, or banishment from the village forever. He chose the the cane, and Omutai Omupa-bandu Barasa, rose up, peeled off his shirt to administer the punishment.