Vusi enters the king’s court in a rush. He has a strange messenger with him.

“Your Majesty! I have a message from the king of the Ndaba clan!” the man says.

“The king of the Ndaba clan?”

“That is so, your majesty.”

“Tell me,” says the king.

“Greetings to you, Your Majesty, wise mind of your court and the entire Ntuli clan,” the man says.

“The king of the Ndaba clan want to talk about a pressing matter that he hopes will join your kingdoms forever. His son, Falakhe, has informed him he is ready to fight the bull so that he can have Princess Thobile’s hand in marriage. Falakhe has trained long and hard. All of us in the Ndaba clan are convinced he will defeat and kill the bull.

“The king of the Ndaba clan respectfully ask that you accept his request,” the messenger finishes and goes out to wait for an answer.

“What are we going to do about this?” asks the king’s chief advisor, Pholonjane.

“This boy really wants to fight a crazy bull because of Thobile?” asks the king.

“That can’t happen, Your Majesty. We have a long standing agreement with the Dladla family about Thobile getting married to their son,” says Pholonjane.“I know that very well, Pholonjane. I have not forgotten our agreement with the Dladlas.”

“I suggest we allow Falakhe to fight with the bull. I doubt he will defeat the bull because that is one crazy bull, Your Majesty.”

“Yes, I have no choice but to allow the fight. If I don’t, there will be conflict between our clans. And also, I will look like a man who is not true to his word if I don’t allow it.”

“Let’s try to avoid conflict at all costs, Your Majesty. The Ndaba clan is a big clan. We would not fare well.”

The king agrees. The messenger is sent back to the Ndaba clan. The king of the Ndaba clan is elated when he gets news that the king of the Ntuli clan has agreed to his request. After a few meetings a date is set for the fight between Falakhe and the crazy bull.

On the day of the fight the Ntulis sit on the left of the field, the Ndabas on the right. Falakhe takes to the centre of the field. The gathered crowd goes into delirium as Falakhe starts a Zulu dance. He holds a spear in one hand, a stick in the other hand. There’s a clacking sound as he bangs the spear and stick together. His right leg goes up, his foot lands with a thud on the ground. The left leg goes up, the left foot lands with a thud on the ground. He is moving towards the bull in this motion of kicking legs up. The bull is tied to a tree, looking in the opposite direction. Falakhe makes a motion as if he is about to stab the bull. People in the crowd clap their hands.

The boy who tends to the cattle approaches the tree to untie the bull. Falakhe takes a step back. The bull turns to see Falakhe. A hoof digs into the ground kicking up a cloud of dust. The bull shoots out from the cloud of dust; it is heading straight to Falakhe. The bull is within arm’s length of him as he tries to stab at it with a spear. He aims at the neck but the bull is too quick. Luckily, Falakhe gets out of the way in time. The horns of the raging bull miss his belly by a hair breadth. The bull carries on to the far end of the field, turns and stops.

“Falakhe! Falakhe!” scream the young men in the crowd.

Falakhe’s confidence grows. He glances at the right side of the field and sees Princess Thobile looking beautiful with an intricate necklace of beadwork on her neck. He is even surer now that he has to defeat the bull so he can marry the beautiful princess.

Princess Thobile doesn’t want Falakhe to win, because she wants to marry Bhekani. She knows that even if Falakhe wins, the king won’t allow the marriage to happen. Fighting with the bull was just something set up by the king to keep unwanted suitors at bay. Little did he know that an idiot like Falakhe would accept the challenge of fighting a crazy bull!

There is Falakhe at the centre of the field banging his spear and stick together, hopping left and right. The bull drops its head and charges straight at him. In a split second there’s a loud cry as the bull’s horns pierce into Falakhe’s rib cage. It’s a messy, gory scene as the bull tosses Falakhe high into the air. He is already dead by the time he hits the ground.

The crowd is in silent shock. Then the wailing from the Ndaba clan fills every inch of the field. The Ndaba king named his first and only son Falakhe, because he was next in line to the throne.

Young men collect tree branches to make a stretcher. There is immense sadness in the faces of the Ndaba clan as they follow the stretcher of their deceased prince back home. A prince has sacrificed his life for the love of a princess. Love is indeed blind!


Tell us: Were you surprised – did you expect Falakhe to kill the bull?