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Folklore and Tales
An Excerpt from
BASUTOLAND: ITS LEGENDS AND CUSTOMS
Originally Published by
Nichols & Co.,34 Hart Street, Bloomsbury, W.C,And23 Oxford Street, W.
This volume has been published by
Folklore and Tales From Lesotho
Typographical arrangement of this edition
© Abela Publishing 2014
This book may not be reproduced in its current format in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, or mechanical ( including photocopy, file or video recording, internet web sites, blogs, wikis, or any other information storage and retrieval system) except as permitted by law without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This little book is an excerpt from a book titled “BASUTOLAND: ITS LEGENDS AND CUSTOMS” compiled by MINNIE MARTIN and originally published in 1903.
We have elected to extract and publish the folktales and stories contained in this book.
Note: Lesotho, formally the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country completely surrounded by The Republic of South Africa. Under British rule from Victorian times until October 1966 (when it became independent from the United Kingdom) it was known as Basutoland.
To T. L——.
Some time ago, during a conversation about Basutoland, you suggested that I should write an account of the country and its inhabitants, and were kind enough to give me many valuable hints as to how I should collect and arrange my information.
As you know, we came out to South Africa in January, 1891, and went up to Basutoland in the following April.
We both liked the country from the first, and I soon became interested in the people. To enable myself to understand them better, I began to study the language, which I can now speak fairly well.
The fact of my husband being a Government official gave me many opportunities of acquiring information, and, as we have been moved about from one station to another, having had six "homes" in the ten years of our sojourn there, I have naturally seen a considerable portion of the country, and come in contact with many different specimens of the Basuto race. I have made a practice of visiting the different villages, and of seeing as much as possible of the inner life of the people, with the result that I have at length put my impressions on paper, in the hope that they may be found of some value to those who take an interest in native habits and customs.
For the kind help and encouragement I have received from you, I am deeply grateful, and hope you will allow me to dedicate to you this small volume, which, without your aid, would never have been written.
To those who have most kindly helped me with information, I tender my grateful thanks.
Abela Publishing acknowledges the work that
did in compiling and publishing
BASUTOLAND: ITS LEGENDS AND CUSTOMS
in a time well before any electronic media was in use.
* * * * * * *
33% of the net profit from the sale of this book
will be donated to the Sentebale charity
supporting children in Lesotho orphaned by aids.
* * * * * * *
YESTERDAY’S BOOKS for TODAY’S CHARITIES
FOLKLORE AND TALES FROM LESOTHO
THE STORY OF TAKANE
HOW KHOSI CHOSE A WIFE
THE VILLAGE MAIDEN AND THE CANNIBAL
MORONGOE THE SNAKE
MORENA-Y-A-LETSATSI, OR THE SUN CHIEF
HOW RA-MOLO BECAME A SNAKE
LELIMO AND THE MAGIC CAP
THE CHIEF AND THE TIGERS
THE MAID AND HER SNAKE-LOVER
TRADITIONAL COUNTING IN LESOTHO
(Takane – Tah-kaa-neh)
Once long ago there lived in Basutoland a chief who had many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, and also a beautiful daughter called Takane (Tak-aan-eh), the joy of his heart, and her mother's pride. Takane was loved by Masilo (Mas-ee-loh), her cousin, who secretly sought to marry her, but she liked him not, neither would she pay heed to his entreaties. At length Masilo wearied her so, that her anger broke forth, and with scorn she said—"Masilo, I like you not. Talk not to me of marriage, for I would rather die than be your wife." "Ho! is that true?" asked Masilo, the evil spirit shining out of his eyes. "Wait a little while, proud daughter of our chief; I will yet repay you for those words." Takane laughed a scornful laugh, and, taking up her pitcher, stepped blithely down to the well. How stupid Masilo was, and why did he keep on troubling her? Did he think, the great baboon, that she would ever marry him? Ho! how stupid men were, after all!
But in Masilo's heart there raged a devil prompting him to deeds of revenge. It whispered in his ear, and, as he listened, he smiled, well pleased, for already he saw the desire of his heart within his reach. Patience and a little cunning, and she should be his.
The next day Masilo obtained his uncle's consent to his giving a feast at a small village across the river for youths and maidens, as was the custom of his tribe. He then paid a visit to the old witch-doctor, who promised to send a terrible hailstorm upon the village in the middle of the feast. Next he went to all the people of the village, and, because he was a chiefs son, and had power in the land, and they were afraid to offend him, he made them promise that none of them would allow Takane to enter their huts; but he said no word of the hailstorm, only he told the people the evil eye would smite them if they disobeyed him.
Early the next day all the villages were astir with excitement; the youths set out in companies by themselves, the maidens following later, singing and dancing as they went. How lovely Takane looked, her face and beautifully rounded limbs shining with fat and red clay; the bangles on her arms and ankles burnished until human endeavour could do no more. Soon all were assembled, and dancing, singing, feasting, and gladness held sway. Suddenly the sky grew dark, the rain-god frowned upon the village, and hail poured in fury down upon the feast. Away ran old and young, seeking shelter in the friendly huts. Takane alone remained outside. As she ran from hut to hut, the people crowded to the doorway, and, when she implored them to take her in, they replied that indeed they would gladly do so, but how could they find room for even one more? Did she not see how some of them were almost outside the door already? At length she came to a hut in which there was only one old woman, sitting shivering over a small fire. "Mother," exclaimed Takane, "I pray you, let me come in, for I am nearly dead already." The old woman placed herself in the doorway, exclaiming, "Go away; don't you see my house is full?" But the girl gently pushed her aside and entered.
After the storm had passed, the merry-makers returned to their homes, Masilo alone remaining behind, in the hope of discovering Takane's dead body, or hearing something of her fate. As he wandered here and there, he saw her coming towards him, unconscious of his presence, and evidently on her way to cross the river. Quickly he hid behind a huge boulder until she had passed, when he cautiously followed her, overtaking her just as she reached the bank of the river. Now by this time the river was getting almost too full to cross in safety, and the Water Spirit was angrily murmuring, for he wanted a sacrifice of a human being to satisfy him. Masilo went up to Takane, who stood hesitating whether to cross or not, and, seizing her by the hand, drew her into the river, until the water came up to her neck.
"Will you marry me now, Takane, or shall I let the Water Spirit have you? I know you cannot swim; so if you won't marry me, I shall take you into the deep hole by that tree and push you in. Say, now, will you marry me?"
"No, Masilo, I will never marry you, never. Let the Water Spirit take me first;" and she struggled to free her hand, but he was strong, and he held her fast. Again he drew her farther into the river, until the water reached her lips.
"Now, Takane, is not life with me better than death with the Water Spirit for husband? Say, will you marry me now?"
"I choose rather death in the black pool, with the cold stones for my bed and the water for my covering, than life with you as my husband. Haste, haste, for I am weary and would sleep."
Her continued refusal to marry him so infuriated Masilo, that, seizing her by the hair of her head, he swam out towards the pool, into which he pushed her with a fierce laugh, saying, "There! Go drown! It is too late now to change your mind." He then turned, and in a few moments reached the bank, and, without one backward glance, walked off to his hut.