The Mother-in-law

Pass on the love of reading! Read this children’s story to a lucky young person.


Told by Fulai Shipipa to Marlene Winberg in 1999. It was translated with the assistance of Kapilolo Mahongo and written as close to the !Xun version as possible.

This story is a warning to son-in-laws who do not treat their wives with respect.

One day, there was a man and a woman. One morning, her sister came to call her. They went to her place to go and braid each other’s hair. That evening, the woman took another route home – she went past the river to collect green leaves for the pot.

The man waited for her at home, but grew impatient. He decided to look for her so that she could come home and cook for him. He did not know that she took anther route home.

And so he walked and walked along the wrong road. While walking, he came across a woman who looked just like his wife. He began to shout at her. “What took you so long? You finished your sister’s hair a long time ago, why are you not at home? I was sitting there waiting for you and I am hungry!”

The woman answered: “I am not your wife. I am another. Now if you choose to come with you, I will show you something. Bit if you prefer to go home, do so.”

He man continued to shout at the woman and struggled with her. Eventually he gave up and went home.

The he found his wife waiting for him. The porridge was already cooked and the relish was frying in the pot. The man said,”But I just saw you nest the road. How did you get here so fast?”

“What road did you take?” asked the woman, “I came along the river.”

Later that night, after supper, they went to sleep. While the man was sleeping, the woman whom he had met along the road came to fetch him in his sleep. She dragged him to her place and killed him. Since then, his wife lived alone peacefully.


Thank you to the Manyeka Arts Trust for allowing FunDza to republish this story. To find out more about the Manyeka Arts Trust, visit: