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 The Guinea Fowl Child

A Zimbabwean Fable

(Courtesy of Mama Afrika)

Pitipiti should have been a very happy woman. She was married to a rich man who had many cattle. But after years of marriage, she was still unable to give him the many children which a man like him deserved. She went to see many people in the hope that they would be able to solve her problem; but to no avail.

Day after day, she watched as her husband’s love for her faded away before her very eyes. She was very sad the day that her husband married a new wife so that he could at last have children. But she was also happy for him when she learned that his new wife had given him a child, and then another.

Each time she learned that the new wife had given birth, she went to offer the newborn a gift; yet she was refused each time. The new wife would tell her, “My husband wasted too many years with you. In just a short time, I have already given him children. Go away since no one wants your gifts!”

Pitipiti was saddened to see that her husband’s love for her that once used to shine in his eyes was slowly replaced by pride for his children. Yet, she continued to work her fields and live life the best she could in her solitude.

A few months later, while she was working in her fields she heard some screeching from the bushes. She approached to see what it was and found a guinea fowl at the top of a branch. He looked at her and cackled, “I am really lonely. So will you make me your child?” Pitipiti responded that she could not have a guinea fowl for a child because everyone would mock her. But he didn’t give up and continued to ask her if she would make him her child just at night so that nobody would know.

After a little thought she decided that if she kept him as a child at nights it would give her company and someone to care for so she agreed. The guinea fowl promised that he would come late at night and he would leave the house early in the morning so that no one saw him.

That night, when she returned home she started to prepare her meal when she heard the screeching of the guinea fowl at the window. She let him in and they enjoyed their meal before going to bed. They lived very happy together like a mother and child would.

Very often though the new wife would pass and jeer at Pitipiti mocking her while she worked in her fields. “What a waste that our husband gave you so much land to work. You have no one to feed but yourself.” Then she would laugh and go to her own fields to work. Pitipiti would just ignore her comments; but the guinea fowl could not support that someone spoke to his mother like that.

So, he flew to the bushes just near the new wife’s fields and began to sing this song:
Come and eat my friends there is lots of grain
Come and eat my friends, eat all of this woman’s grain

The new wife simply thought that it was a bird like all the others singing in the bush. One by one though, the guinea fowls started to arrive. Soon her fields were filled with guinea fowls that had heard the song and come to fill their bellies.

In a panic the new wife started to scream at them and kill the guinea fowl one after the other including Pitipiti’s son. She immediately prepared them for dinner.

Her husband was pleased to see that his wife had prepared so many birds for dinner and thanked her for being such a good woman. They feasted to their hearts content and sat at the table talking.

Just as they finished the last bite of the meal, they heard the song of the guinea fowl. Looking around to see where it was coming from, they discovered that the singing came from their own stomachs. They got so scared that they grabbed the knives from the table and cut stabbed at the birds. The birds flew out of the holes and left the couple dead on the floor. They then returned to the field to eat the remaining grain.

When Pitipiti learned what had happened, she was happy that she would no longer have to endure the insults of the new wife. She also got to keep all of her husband’s cattle and his land.

Once people heard what happened, there were many men who wanted to marry Pitipiti. After all, she had a very intelligent and interesting son.

Article courtesy of Mama Afrika


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