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Baba Indaba Children’s Stories
Abela Publishing, London
A HEART OF ICE
Typographical arrangement of this edition
©Abela Publishing 2016
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London, United Kingdom
Baba Indaba Children’s Stories
Baba Indaba, pronounced Baaba Indaaba, lived in Africa a long-long time ago. Indeed, this story was first told by Baba Indaba to the British settlers over 250 years ago in a place on the South East Coast of Africa called Zululand, which is now in a country now called South Africa.
In turn the British settlers wrote these stories down and they were brought back to England on sailing ships. From England they were in turn spread to all corners of the old British Empire, and then to the world.
In olden times the Zulu’s did not have computers, or iPhones, or paper, or even pens and pencils. So, someone was assigned to be the Wenxoxi Indaba (Wensosi Indaaba) – the Storyteller. It was his, or her, job to memorise all the tribe’s history, stories and folklore, which had been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. So, from the time he was a young boy, Baba Indaba had been apprenticed to the tribe’s Wenxoxi Indaba to learn the stories. Every day the Wenxoxi Indaba would narrate the stories and Baba Indaba would have to recite the story back to the Wenxoxi Indaba, word for word. In this manner he learned the stories of the Zulu nation.
In time the Wenxoxi Indaba grew old and when he could no longer see or hear, Baba Indaba became the next in a long line of Wenxoxi Indabas. So fond were the children of him that they continued to call him Baba Indaba – the Father of Stories.
When the British arrived in South Africa, he made it his job to also learn their stories. He did this by going to work at the docks at the Point in Port Natal at a place the Zulu people call Ethekwene (Eh-tek-weh-nee). Here he spoke to many sailors and ships captains. Captains of ships that sailed to the far reaches of the British Empire – Canada, Australia, India, Mauritius, the Caribbean and beyond.
He became so well known that ship’s crew would bring him a story every time they visited Port Natal. If they couldn’t, they would arrange to have someone bring it to him. This way his library of stories grew and grew until he was known far and wide as the keeper of stories – a true Wenxoxi Indaba of the world.
Baba Indaba believes the tale he is about to tell in this little book, and all the others he has learned, are the common property of Umntwana (Children) of every nation in the world - and so they are and have been ever since men and women began telling stories, thousands and thousands of years ago.
This next story was told to him by a man who hailed from the port of Vladivostok. Can you find Vladivostok on a map? What country is it in?
A story, a story
Let it come, let it go
A story, a story
From long, long ago!
Umntwana Izwa! Children Listen!
ONCE upon a time long, long ago, in a far, far away land, there lived a King and Queen who were foolish beyond all telling, but nevertheless they were vastly fond of one another. It is true that certain spiteful people were heard to say that this was only one proof the more of their exceeding foolishness, but of course you will understand that these were not their own courtiers, since, after all, they were a King and Queen, and up to this time all things had prospered with them. For in those days the one thing to be thought of in governing a kingdom was to keep well with all the Fairies and Enchanters, and on no account to stint them of the cakes, the ells of ribbon, and similar trifles which were their due, and, above all things, when there was a christening, to remember to invite every single one, good, bad, or indifferent, to the ceremony. Now, the foolish Queen had one little son who was just going to be christened, and for several months she had been hard at work preparing an enormous list of the names of those who were to be invited, but she quite forgot that it would take nearly as long to read it over as it had taken to write it out. So, when the moment of the christening arrived the King—to whom the task had been entrusted—had barely reached the end of the second page and his tongue was tripping with fatigue and haste as he repeated the usual formula: 'I conjure and pray you, Fairy so-and-so'—or 'Enchanter such-a-one'—'to honour me with a visit, and graciously bestow your gifts upon my son.'
To make matters worse, word was brought to
him that the Fairies asked on the first page had already arrived and were waiting impatiently in the Great Hall, and grumbling that nobody was there to receive them. Thereupon he gave up the list in despair and hurried to greet those whom he had succeeded in asking, imploring their goodwill so humbly that most of them were touched, and promised that they would do his son no harm. But there happened to be among them a Fairy from a far country about whom they knew nothing, though her name had been written on the first page of the list. This Fairy was annoyed that after having taken the trouble to come so quickly, there had been no one to receive her, or help her to alight from the great ostrich on which she had travelled from her distant home, and now she began to mutter to herself in the most alarming way.
'Oh! prate away,' said she, 'your son will never be anything to boast of. Say what you will, he will be nothing but a Mannikin—'