Once upon a time in the far, far away African land of Mapungubwe lived a man, his wife and daughter.

The man’s name was Madlingozi-which literally means prey on danger. He was a great warrior and hunter. Madlingozi was friendly and wise. He gave advice to his king on how to lead his people. As a result of Madlingozi’s wise words, the king was admired by his tribe and other tribes as well. The king always tried to repay Madlingozi’s wise words and faithfulness with cattle and sheep, but Madlingozi did not accept the king’s gifts. He said of the king’s generosity and kindness, “It is my duty to serve you, your highness.”

One night when king Ntozobawo was sleeping, the ancestors showed him a vision of a huge temple standing on one pillar. The pillar was then destroyed by a rough storm, but the temple was never shaken. The ancestors then showed him a throne with a woman sitting on it with a crown on her head. He then heard a loud voice that shouted, “Honour the one who makes sense of what you have seen.”

The king then awoke and called Duma, his servant.

“What bothers my king in his sleep?” asked the servant.

“Go now to the entire land and call for all wise men, sangomas and diviners from every tribe and village to come and explain the vision that I had in my sleep.”

From all tribes of the Nguni kingdom, they came to King Ntozobawo’s kraal, but none of them could unravel the mystery in the king’s dream. King Ntozobawo became furious that no one could explain what his dream meant.

King Ntozobawo remembered that he had a friend who knew his heart and thoughts. He remembered that he had a friend who knew all his flaws and shortcomings and yet all that he knew of the king was kept between them. The king raised his hand to stop the man who entertained him with music. He called Duma, with his great and mighty voice.

“Go now to my right-hand man and tell him that he who wears the golden crown beckons him to the royal house. My heart became his palace since the day he found favour in my eyes. Command him that, I thirst for his counsel”. The king uttered.

Duma went on his way, accompanied by his friend Sela. Hastily, they went to Madlingozi’s house and found there a young girl; the most beautiful in the land. Her name was Zipho, Madlingozi’s one and only daughter.

“Where is your father?” asked the king’s servant.

“Father is not with us,” answered the young girl.

“Where might he be?” asked Sela, curiously.

“He has gone hunting,” replied Zipho.

“As soon as he arrives, tell him that King Ntozobawo is expecting him,” said Duma.

Sela was an arrogant man. He was jealous and envious of Madlingozi’s wisdom. He despised Madlingozi because he was wise and blessed. He often said to himself, ‘The world would have been a better place had people like Madlingozi been ripped from their mothers’ wombs and killed before they could say the word, Mama’.

Sela and Madlingozi were warriors in past wars. When they conquered the Modjadji tribes, Sela wanted to take some cattle for himself. Madlingozi opposed him. Since he was the Induna, the battle leader, he ordered his Impi, warriors, to take the cattle to the royal kraal. From that day on, Sela vowed to kill Madlingozi whenever an opportunity presented itself. He thought to himself, ‘Now here is a chance to get rid of this intruder’.

Sela then told Duma that he was going to the veld to dig some muti for his sick wife. So he rushed to his house, took his spear and headed for the veld where he would find and kill Madlingozi. While Madlingozi was sharpening his spear by the river, Sela crept behind him and stabbed him on his back. As Madlingozi was turning, Sela kicked him, stepped on his neck and stabbed him deep in his heart. And that was the tragic end of this honourable man.

When Madlingozi had breathed his last breath, dark clouds rose over Mapungubwe. Thunder roared and lightning flashed angrily. Night and day fused, and it stayed like that until Madlingozi’s body was discovered by women who had gone to draw water from the well next to the river where Madlingozi lay dead. King Ntozobawo raged when he heard of his best friend’s death.

He called an Imbizo (gathering). He stood up, his nation was silenced.

“One of you has blood on his hands. If you have a guilty conscience, step forth or tonight, when you die, you shall not be united with your ancestors,” he said.

Sela was amongst the men in the front row. Zipho, Madlingozi’s daughter, appeared from the crowd.

“Your highness,” she said, “it is he who is responsible for this dreadful deed.” She was pointing at Sela.

Sela ran and knelt before the king and swore on his father’s name that he did not kill Madlingozi.

Nkosi yam, My king), are you going to believe a woman and worst of all a girl over your brave warrior?”

“My king, I tell you the truth. He killed my father.” Zipho said.

King Ntozobawo dismissed the Imbizo. For a long time, the king sank deep in thought. He asked his ancestors to avenge Madlingozi’s death.

That very night, strange events occurred in Mapungubwe. There was unrest in the royal kraal, cattle fought each other, dogs wailed the whole night and there was a storm in the village. In the morning, as Duma did his morning duties around the castle, he saw a body lying in the castle gates. It was Sela. Duma ran to inform the king.

“Go now to Madlingozi’s house and say to his daughter, he who wears the golden crown beckons her to the royal house. Say unto her, she has found favour in my eyes and my heart has become her palace. Come now to my dwelling and reveal the mystery that no wise man, except your father could reveal.” The king ordered.

The servant quickly went to Madlingozi’s house and did as he had been ordered.

“She will soon be there,” said Zipho’s step-mother.

When Duma was gone, Zipho’s step-mother called Zipho up to her.

“Why does the king want to see you?”

“I do not know mama,” replied Zipho.

“You are going nowhere. Your father has just died. You will stay here, clean the house, cook and wash my clothes.”

Zipho cried, for she did not know why her step-mother treated her with so much contempt.

“Wipe off those tears and go wash my dirty clothes by the river,” commanded the step-mother. Zipho wiped dry the tears and headed for the river.

At the river, into which her dead father’s blood had been washed, Zipho took a calabash to draw water for the washing. Suddenly, her father’s reflection appeared on the water. Madlingozi spoke to his daughter and explained to her the mystery behind the king’s dream and instructed her to immediately go to the king’s palace and tell the king what he had just told her.

Zipho hid her step-mother’s clothes behind a huge rock and ran to the king’s castle. When she got there, she spoke to the king.

“My king had a dream in which you saw a temple that stood on one pillar. The pillar was destroyed by a huge storm but the temple stood. The temple, my king, is your kingdom; the pillar is your most valuable man who has just passed on. A brave soldier and your loyal friend whom your kingdom relied on just died, but instead of being destroyed by its enemies, your kingdom will stand forever. You will be a father to kings, wise men and fearless warriors. You will be rich from cattle and crops. Your name will remain forever”.

When Zipho had finished interpreting the dream, she ran out of the castle back to the river to finish her step-mother’s laundry.

Zipho finished the washing and went back home. As she entered the door to her step-mother’s hut, prince Ntsikelelo stopped by. The king had called an Imbizo to celebrate the unraveling of his mysterious dream and wanted to honour Zipho before the whole nation of Mapungubwe. He sent his son on a wagon to go and collect Zipho and her step-mother for the occasion.

At the gathering, the king asked Zipho to tell the people of Mapungubwe what the king had seen and what it meant. She stood and explained the dream to the whole nation. When she had finished talking, prince Ntsikelelo stood up to address his future people.

“Behold, my forefathers have chosen the future queen of Mapungubwe.” Kneeling down before Zipho, in front of his entire nation, he said, “You are the fairest of all women and the wisest of all the people of Mapungubwe. You are the chosen one. May you honour me and make me the happiest man in the whole world. Will you be the queen of Mapungubwe, mother of kings and my wife?”

Zipho looked at her step-mother, she smiled and she agreed. The whole gathering erupted with joy, except of course for one person. Then the king, with an enormous feeling of content in his heart, thought to himself, finally, the sky is blue again. No more thunderous clouds, no more lightning. We can see clearly now. Our ancestors and Madlingozi have cleared our path.


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