The Mud Baby

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

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Told by Meneputo Manunga Manyeka in 2005. Translated by Marlene Winberg.

The mud baby is a healing story. It talks about faith in the healing process.

Ntjui was a little girl who made dolls from the mud she found at the river’s edge. She enjoyed playing with them and carried them around on her back; just like she saw the women do with their real babies.

When Ntjui grew up and got married, she could not have any babies of her own. Her husband asked her: “Why do the two of us not have any children?”

The girl Ntjui, who was now a woman, went to the spirit healer and asked her for a daza tzema, a baby. The healer said, “You must make a baby from mud. Take your mud baby and put it inside the hut. But you must never take the baby outside; she must always sleep inside the hut.”

The woman went to the river’s edge and collected soft, yellow mud. She made a mud baby. She made a little bed from scraps of leather and soft feathers. She put her mud baby inside their grass hut, tucked into the little bed.

Later, Ntjui and her husband sat outside around their hearth. They kindled their fire and talked to each other as they did every night. Suddenly, they heard a cry from inside their hut.

Ntjui went to look and called her husband: “Come and look! We have a real baby now!” They were happy for they did not want to be without children.

When the woman and her husband went to the veld to look for food the next morning, the woman asked her sister’s children to look after the baby for her. She told them to keep the baby inside the hut.

But the children took the baby outside to play with her in the veld. It started raining. The baby got wet and returned to mud.

When the Ntjui and her husband returned from the veld with their food, they saw that the baby was not in their hut. Oh! The children must have taken the baby into the rain! She fell down onto her knees, she cried and cried.

Then, she heard the soft pitter-patter of little feet. She looked up and saw the village children all around her. They smiled down to her.

Ntjui stopped crying and looked up. She saw the children and smiled. She was surrounded by children. All the children of the village were there.

Hmm, this is how this story goes…

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