There once was a king in the Barolong tribe who had four wives. The king was a respected man in his tribe and the society at large. He had conquered powerful tribes like the Matabele tribe, had carried all his traditions and served his nation well with pride. But his time had come.

One day, he fell ill and knew his end was near. According to the tradition of the Barolong, a king had to take one of his wives with him to the grave. Now that I have four wives, who will I take with me to the grave, the king thought to himself.

He loved the fourth wife the most and adorned her with beautiful gifts, jewellery and expensive clothes. He gave her nothing but the best treatment over the others. He also loved the third wife very much and enjoyed showing her off to neighbouring tribes. However, he was afraid that one day she would leave him for another king.

He also loved his second wife. She was his adviser and was always good, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the king had a problem, he would ask for advice from her and she would help him get through difficult times.

The first wife was very loyal and did everything in her power to maintain the king’s wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love her although she loved him deeply. He hardly gave her attention or spent some time in her house.

The time for the king to die came, and he had to take a wife with him.

“I have loved you the most, my dear,” said the king the fourth wife.

“No way!” replied the fourth wife and left the room without looking back. Her answer cut like a sharp knife through the king’s heart.

The sad king called for the third wife.

“I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me to the grave?” asked the king.

“No!” replied the third wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I will get remarried.”

His heart sank and turned cold from hearing such painful words. He then called for the second wife.

“I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me?” asked the king.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you out this time,” replied the second wife. “The most I can do is bury you and look after your things when you are gone.”

Her answer struck the king like a bolt of lightning. And once again, the king was devastated and even thought of giving up.

“I’ll go with you. I will follow you wherever you go…” a voice called out.

The king looked up and there was his first wife. She was thin, malnourished, and suffering from being neglected.

“I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance…” greatly grieved, the king said.

In truth, we all have four wives in our lives: Our fourth wife is our body. No matter how much effort we put in making it healthy and beautiful, it will leave us when we die. Our third wife is our possessions. Status and wealth, when we die, it will all go to others. Our second wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can do is to be with us until we die and get buried. Our first wife is our soul. It is often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures to fulfil our ego.

However, our soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen, bless and cherish your soul. Don’t be the foolish king!


Tell us: What did you learn from the king’s story?