Long, long ago, just after snakes had lost their ability to walk on land … and the sun was still in the early stages of turning egg-yolk yellow … when humans had just gained the gift of speech … and the rich, fertile soil was plenty … and life was prosperous, at the heart of Southern Africa lived an indigenous group of Africans. They were called Bamobu: ‘those of the earth’.

They lived side by side in a tight-knit community, in peace and harmony.

In those days, the people were as good as nameless because they called themselves only after their king, Kgosi Mathomo Mobu – ‘the first of the earth’. He ruled relatively fairly over his people, without too much use of the iron fist. Although he ruled like a feudal lord, he made sure his people did not suffer. When times were hard, he would give some of his livestock to those in need and would take less of the villagers’ seasonal harvest in tax.

But, of course, he made sure that no-one surpassed him, or indeed even possessed wealth equal to him.

Time passed, and as is bound to happen, conflict started to arise amongst the Kgosi’s people. They began to complain at the Kgosi’s ‘unjust’ laws.

Meanwhile, a man called Tsietsi was the wittiest, and yet the poorest, among the villagers. He was riddled by bad luck and bad timing. Something would befall his crop or livestock seasonally.

Even though his experimental farming techniques were supposedly well ahead of the other villagers, they failed. If his cattle weren’t attacked by the predatory lions in the wild, they died of his experimental concoctions that were made to heal them. And so it was with the fate of his crops, which would either die in the middle of the season before fruition, or never grow at all.

He was the subject of humiliation and mocking laughter amongst the villagers. Most people sang in one voice that his ancestors were unhappy with him, and that only by means of a major sacrifice would he see any divine intervention. And, because he couldn’t contribute rations towards the throne, he thus became infamous to the king. Due to his failures, much attention fell on him.

Only his beautiful wife, Tshenolo, whom he dearly loved and had been with since they were teenagers, believed in and placed hope in him, and was his only solace.


Tell us: Should Tsietsi just go back to the old ways of doing things, and not draw unwanted attention through his experiments?