Stories Collected by SIL

Nalizukwa 7 Sukuma Stories1



Pastor Gideon Bundala: The Lion p. 1-9

            When you hear a call of distress [ng’wano] that involves a lion, nephew, don’t act like you are able to handle the situation! Have you ever heard a lion? Do you know anything about them? Have you ever even seen one? 

            One day when I was a boy living in Msalala, I heard a ng’wano at about four o’clock in the afternoon. All of the men in the village went to see what the problem was, and I accompanied them. When we got to the place from which the call came, we asked “What happened?”

            Someone answered, “A herder came from the pasture and told us that a cow was strangled to death by an animal, but he didn’t know what kind of animal did it.”

            All of us thought, “The speaker’s holding something back. He knows that it was a male lion that did it.”

            Anyway, we all went together to where the cow had been killed. When we got there, someone remarked, “It was certainly a lion that did that!” Many people began to be afraid because we saw that the cow had severe scratch wounds on its neck, and its back and stomach had been eaten.

            Since the sun was going down, the men decided to butcher the cow and cut off some of the meat. They would poison what was left, so that when the lion returned for its meal, it would die.

            After that decision was made, some of the men began to cut off pieces of the meat, while others sat down to watch. There were people standing near by as well as far off; each one had a weapon in his hand: a bow and arrow, a spear, a club, a gun, or a panga (machete), — whatever they had been able to grab as they came running to answer the ng’wano.

            After a while, darkness descended. There were a lot of trees where they were cutting the meat, and flies were all over the branches. Suddenly one man from the group raised his head and hit one of the branches, which caused the flies to swarm around him. He thought they were bees and ran off to get rid of them.  

            When the men saw him running, they thought that the lion was attacking him. I tell you, nephew, people started running in all directions. Those who had arrows left them behind, taking only their bows. Some got their clothes on the trees and ran off in only their shorts. Nephew, it was amazing! – many of the men ran off and didn’t return.

            Those of us who hadn’t run away realized that the man had been disturbed only by flies. The men continued butchering the cow and they discovered it was pregnant. We cut off large pieces of the meat and rubbed the poison that we use for bedbugs on the rest of the meat, as well as on the calf that it had been carrying.

            When we finished, the men decided that early in the morning they would call the ng’wano again, and we would go together to see if the lion had been killed by the poison.

After that we took the meat to the owner of the cow.

            That night when we had gathered around the fire, someone remarked, “That was a female lion, you know. They are more dangerous than male lions.”  

            When the herder heard that, he became really frightened. He had a panga (machete) in his hand and was too afraid to put it down. The men had to pry his fingers from the panga one by one. However, the father of the herder was a medicine man and he prepared medicine to give him courage.     

            The next morning when we heard the ng’wano, all the men began to leave together, and I again joined them. When we reached the place where the meat had been poisoned, there was hardly anything left. The lion had eaten all the meat including the unborn calf.

            The men then decided to track the lion. Those who had guns would lead, and those who had bows and arrows would follow. The rest of us would be in the back.

            And so we began to follow the tracks of the lion. We went until we arrived at a deep bush, at which some of the men said, “The lion is certainly in there! It may still be alive or it has died.”

            At that, all of us got our weapons ready and began to enter the bush. Those in front startled a guinea hen that was laying on its eggs and it flushed out noisily, pupupu!  At that everyone started running in all directions, even more quickly than they had the day before!

            One of the men who ran away got caught on a thorn. He shouted, “Men, it’s got me! Help! I’m dying!”   

            However, the leader knew that it had been only a guinea hen that had disturbed them. He called out, “Everybody come back!” but those who had run away were no longer there to hear him.

Those who were not afraid went further into the bush with their dogs, but there was no lion there.

We then followed the tracks of the lion until we reached a river which was full of water. We saw that the lion had crossed to the other side, so everyone decided to go home.

            My nephew, listen to me! Be afraid when you hear the ng’wano. If it has to do with a lion, don’t go! Don’t stick out your chest and think you are able to handle the situation. You can get in trouble, even you never see the lion!


Evangelist Martha Masaga “The Iguana Doesn’t Listen Until Blood Comes Out of Its Ears!” (a Sukuma proverb) [p.10-12)


            I remember when I was small, I lived with my paternal grandfather. He always told me that I should obey and not do what he tells me not to do.

            One day some ‘migu’ thorn trees had been cut down. I started to climb the trees. The thorns were large and thick. While I was climbing I slipped, and the thorns scratched my thigh. There was a lot of blood and I started to cry.

            My grandfather heard me and came and got me out of the thorns.

            We we got home, he told me, “Child, I warned you not to climb trees, but you didn’t listen. Since you refused my advice, you now have the scars.”

            Still I didn’t listen.

            One day I climbed again, this time in a guava tree. The tree pierced me on my cheek. My grandfather beat me and warned me again.

            But I still didn’t listen.

            Another day I climbed a papaya tree. When I grabbed a branch of the tree, it broke and I fell to the ground and hit my head. I was unconscious for a while. My grandfather cried because he thought I was dead.

            After a while I regained consciousness.

            Since that day I have listened to my grandfather; however, as a result of my disobedience I now have scars, and because I fell on my head I have trouble remembering things.

            That is why it is good to listen to your elders’ advice.


Anna Nghabi  “The crazy lady” p. 13-15

            One day a crazy lady named Sumayi came to my house. I welcomed her and gave her food to eat. She then came and stayed with us.

            She enjoyed living in our house. We slept together in one room. There were four of us in the room: me, my cousin, my younger sister, and Sumayi. We would wash in the evening, sleep until morning, and then she would go off to wander around.

            In the evening she would return. Again we ate together and would sleep together in our home. In the morning she would wake up and we would give her water for bathing and oil [to rub on her body].   

            If Sumayi liked a house she would stay there, no matter what kind of a house it was. She stayed with us for almost a year.

            After I got married, Sumayi knew that her friend had moved away. She would stopped and ask from far away, “Mother, is my friend there?”

            Mother would reply, “She got married!”

            “O.K. I’m not coming if my friend isn’t there.”

            She would then leave. She went to any house that she liked.

            My children and grandchildren, I want to give you advice. Have a heart to serve people. Even if they are crazy, give them water to drink. If they don’t have clothes, enter your house and get something for them to wear. If you have food, give them some. If they are dirty, wash them.

            Let’s show them our love.

Matthew Masanagulilo: The message of the Lord

  1. 16-22

When I was about seven years old, we lived in Bugilasoga, in the Sengerema District. There were many boys and girls in our family, as well as my father and mother. In those days white people would come and go to our village, both ladies and men. Some came to stay for a while; others came only for a day. They stayed together in a house and I was very much afraid of them.

            One day in 1941, there came a big tall man to our village. He didn’t have any hair on his head.  I ran to my house and hid under the bed. To my distress the man came after me. He took me by the hand and took me outside.

            He said to me, “Son, why are you afraid? Come to me. I am a person just like you!”

            Then he got a chair and lifted me to his lap, and he caressed my head. I was crying. After a while I looked at him and he was smiling. I too began to smile. After a while, we got up, and he took my hand.

            That afternoon, after we had finished eating, my father said, “Let’s go now to the market and tell them the words of life.”

            So we went: my father, my mother, and that white man.

On the way, I asked my father, “Who is this visitor? What is his name?”

He said, “That is Pastor Glock.  They sent him from America to tell us the message of life.”

We went on, and Pastor Glock went with us.

When we got to the market, we found a lot of people. Some were selling meat, some were selling fruit and vegetables, others were selling clothes.

After a while my father said to my mother, “Start a song and we will sing about the Lord.”

            Mother began to sing and other believers who were in the market joined us. We sang loudly and people came from all over to listen to us.

            After we had sung for a while, my father led in prayer and then he introduced the speaker. Pastor Glock started to preach in a loud voice and with conviction.

            He said, “You my Sukuma friends, I have come to bring you the message of life that came from God. Leave your sins and believe in Jesus, the Son of God who left his glory in heaven. He came to die on the cross for all of our sakes: white, black, and brown. If you don’t believe in Jesus, there will be a day that Jesus, the Son of God, will return. Those who don’t believe in Him will be thrown into the lake of fire where they will cry and suffer. This is a true message; don’t refuse it!”  

            That is the way he preached.

            Then he asked, “Who wants to accept the Lord Jesus?” He also asked, “Who wants to return to the Lord Jesus? You who are in sin, come back to the Lord Jesus!”

            After the service, Pastor Glock prayed. We began to return home because it was late in the afternoon. As we were going, Pastor Glock took my hand again and we walked along together. By the time we got home, I was no longer afraid.

            From that day to this, I have never again been afraid of white people.

Rebecca Bundala: “Snake!”

            A long time ago I used to have a good friend. One day a tragedy happened to her; her child died. When we learned that, we went to comfort her.

            When we got to her home, to our surprise we found out that her husband was a medicine man. My friend said to us, “Listen, during the night we will be visited by some relatives who will be going around among you. Don’t be afraid!”

            That night a lot of people [who had come for the wake], went to sleep. About four of us said to each other, “Let’s wait for the visitors who are coming, because they said they are coming to greet us.”

            And so we sat to wait. After a while, I fell asleep.

            Early in the morning, a large snake appeared and began to pass over the other people. When my friends saw it, they were terrified. They said to me, “Get up! Look! The visitor has arrived!”

            When I got up to look, I saw a big snake off to one side. It was moving among the people.

            I was very much afraid. We began to yell, “Ladies, we are dead! There is a snake among us!”

            Everyone woke up and began to run to get out of the house. Because there were so many people, the snake was trampled to death. Many people were trampled as well. Some were hurt and one broke her arm and had to be taken to the hospital.

            At daybreak, we went to the burial and all small talk stopped. We comforted the bereaved and then returned home.


Eunice Gagala: The hyena

I remember when I got married, my husband and I went to live next to Bukundi for one year.  We were far from home and we lived by ourselves.

            One day my husband went to sew clothes at a celebration and he stayed overnight.    

        That night I needed to go to the bathroom so I went outside the house. As I squatted down, I felt like something was there. I asked myself, “What is it?” Suddenly I saw a hyena looking straight at me. When I saw that, I was so afraid, I couldn’t move. The hyena and I kept staring at each other.

            After a while the hyena got up and went on its way. We were close to the road, next to the bush. When it got to the road, it disappeared. I got up and ran to the house and when I got inside, I fell to the ground in a dead faint.

            After a while I got up trembling. I went to the door and closed it as fast as I could.  

            I tell you, that night I couldn’t sleep. I was so afraid that I can’t explain it to you. From that day on, I have never gone outside at night. That hyena scared me to death.

Mebo Elias: The rain-caller.

            We had a grandfather who lived in Guno in the Nassa area. At that time I was about four or five years old. We had not yet started school and were living with our father in Ng’wamanyili. Sometimes we would go to visit our grandfather and we enjoyed that very much.          

            Our grandfather could bring down rain. When the rain came we would hear his voice singing and we would become happy when we heard his song. He would wear black clothes and enter a little house he had built which was called a ‘kilinga’. When the rain came, he would sing:

            Utunge ubutendele ng’wana munonga,

            Utunge ubutendele ng’wana munonga,

            Utunge ubutendele

[The son of Munonga is opening the rain]

            Then the rain would fall. We were listening and we would also begin to sing his song. He was inside and we were outside the house singing:

            Utunge ubutendele ng’wana munonga,

            Utunge ubutendele ng’wana munonga,

            Utunge ubutendele

The rain would really pour down hard and he would keep on singing until it stopped. The next day he would do the same thing:

            Utunge ubutendele ng’wana munonga,

            Utunge ubutendele ng’wana munonga,

            Utunge ubutendele

Every day his life was the same. His belief was like that until the end.