The Punishment of the Borrower

“Kiama Cha Mkopaji” translates to “The Punishment of the Borrower” in English.

Once upon a time, there was an old man named Kanyawi who moved to the village of Ntenga from Usambaani. This old man had a strong love for alcohol, and when he ran out of money, he decided to pawn anything he owned. He became a nuisance to his family because every person he borrowed from would come to their house demanding their debt. Due to the respect they had for their father, the wife and children had to constantly repay the debts. It reached a point where the wife and children had to come up with various projects to pay off the debts and support each other’s education. The eldest son, named Mwasu, came up with the idea of beekeeping and carved beautiful beehives that became the talk of the village.

One day, as was the usual with Mzee Kanyawi, he borrowed a bottle of expensive liquor worth three thousand shillings. After being reminded of the debt, he told the lender to come to his house the next day to collect the money. The next day, the lender called Mzee Kanyawi to inform him that he was on his way to collect the money. Upon hearing this, Mzee Kanyawi looked up at the tree near his house and noticed a new beehive that had not yet been occupied by bees. He told his wife that some people were coming to kill him, so he would hide inside the beehive and she should lock him in so that those who were demanding payment wouldn’t find him. Out of great love for her husband, she agreed to his request and locked him inside the beehive.

Shortly thereafter, Mzee Mwasu arrived and asked about Mzee Kanyawi’s whereabouts. His wife defended him, saying that he had suddenly traveled and would return the following week. Mzee Mwasu felt disappointed but decided to take the unoccupied beehive with him without realizing that Mzee Kanyawi was inside. He took it home and intended to break it open for firewood since he believed Mzee Kanyawi was not a responsible borrower. Mzee Mwasu asked his young laborer to take a machete and split open the beehive to get firewood. Meanwhile, Mzee Kanyawi remained silent inside the beehive, waiting for evening to come so he could return home.

The young laborer took the machete and struck the beehive, and suddenly blood splattered everywhere. Upon closer inspection, they realized that it was Mzee Kanyawi’s head that had been split open. Indeed, the borrower’s punishment took his life without even asking for water.

This story was created by Sekiete Mtana, a sixth-grade student at Ushindi Primary School.

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