27 February 2015

And Then The King Fell

"Gogo tell me a story", Mandla piped up in the failing light. His voice piercing through the gathering darkness with all the innocence and insistence that only a seven year old has.

Gogo stirred from whatever depths of thought her mind had descended to. For a moment she seemed as if she hadn't heard the question, her face expressionless, a calm sea upon which a wave of laughter burst. She cackled for so long even Mandla began to worry that finally Gogo had finally lost the last of her wits as mama said she would. Mama did not really like this Gogo that much, Mama liked the Gogo who was her mother and not this one who was Baba's mother and spent her days wrapped in her silent thoughts. 

"You want a story do you?" Her voice was strong but breathy. The question hung in the air for a moment before she went on. "You want a story and I will tell you one, I will tell you a story of a King, powerful and royal. A King who mounted the world and thought the Sun revolved around his balls".
Mandla giggled, he liked it when Gogo was in this mood, he knew the story would be good. He stood up and went to snuggle against her, his eyes closed and very soon his whole world was Gogo's voice. Gogo's powerful voice weaving its threads through the darkness. 

"Once long ago, long long ago back when the stones were still soft and snakes had legs; long ago when Elephant's nose had not yet been stretched by Baboon and Cheetah had not painted with spots by Hare. Long ago in this very land lived a powerful King who ruled his country with a stone fist. His people were the saddest in the land and yet their lands overflew with maize and their rivers with gold. They could not speak because the King did not like anyone but himself to speak, for he thought his voice was the most amazing thing in the world. They could not think for the King felt that only his mind held anything of interest. And while his family were the fattest in the whole grasslands, their skin soft like that of the plum in summer and their hair black and shiny like the inside of a Mamba's mouth; his people starved, their stick-like figures standing like praying mantis' in the harsh glare of the light of day.

"while his family were the fattest in the whole grasslands..."

People came from far and wide to this land to trade gold with this King, and precious stones and maize. They came from the Northern lands where the sun shines all day and rests only for an hour before rising again. They came from the East where the jungles are so deep and dense demons live in the darkest corners of that land. They came from the West where they worship fish yet eat them more than anything else. They came to trade and the King and his family grew fatter and richer than all the lands that had come before and all the lands that were to come after. Or so they thought."

Here Gogo paused. The Sun had now set and the smokey interior of the hut was now completely dark. But she didn't motion to Mandla to look for the candles so he stayed snug and calm in her embrace.

"No one knew how it happened but those who served the King became blinded by his wealth. Perhpaps it was the sight of the gold that dripped from his body, or perhaps they were blinded by the gleaming rolls of fat that rolled off his fat belly. Some say it was the witches of the West who had been bribed by the King's diamonds who bewitched them but soon the entire land was bewitched."

Gogo's voice grew dark and heavy, punctuating the hut, reverberating against the mud walls and making Mandla grip tighter into her shawl.

"They grew crazy, worshipping the ground he walked on. What little food the people had, they gave to the already fat King to celebrate the day of his birth. One time in the middle of a drought, they slaughtered so many cows and goats, the waters of the River Nkawe turned red for seven full days and seven full nights. Even as the people slept under stars for lack of homes, the King built more and houses for him and his Family. While his people walked, the King used the gold of the land to buy horses from the strange lands of the North. While the children of the people went to sleep hungry, the King used the silver of the land to buy fish from the lands of the West; smoked fish, spiced fish, dried fish, fish aged for centuries in the ageless storerooms of the Western people and whose taste is said to be unrivalled by anything under the sun. Whenever he spoke, his Royal Servers would drop to the ground and thank the heavens for having been blessed with such Knowledge. Whenever he would deign to look at one of them they would freeze, afraid of upsetting the balance of the Universe if they made one wrong move in his presence. Very soon they began to call him not only their King but also their God". 

Gogo spat out that last word with such vehemence she began coughing. Her rough heaves felt painful to Mandla but he sensed a deeper pain in her. He clutched tighter to her side, afraid the King would materialise in the hut and bewitch him into thinking of him as a God. Gogo was silent for so long, Mandla feared she had fallen asleep. 
"What happened next Gogo?", his voice was now plaintive, "what happened to all of them". 

To Be Continued....


  1. YES....what happens next Gogo? can't wait !!

  2. The story of the kingdom of stones!