Where stories came from
There was once a woman named Inganekwane and her husband Insumansumane who lived long ago, so long ago that they must have known the first people.
They led a hard life and kept themselves busy during the days, Inganekwane wove, tanned hides and tilled the land while Insumansumane hunted and carved. He was named the best carver in all of the land and everyone came from far and wide to come see his work.
Even though there was much to do during the day, when it became dark and the food had been eaten, there was no light to do anything that had been done during the day. The children would cry in the evenings for stories and all the elders were sad as there were none to be told.
Inganekwane decided one day that she would go out and search for strories to tell her poor children and so she set off. Insumansumane told her that he would look after everyone until she returned and stood waving as she decended below the mountain valley.
Squirrel as one of the first she came to meet on her journey and she thought to ask him if he had any tales to tell her. He chased her off, angrily squeaking that he had no time for such trifles as he was too busy collecting food for the winter coming and told her she should do the same.
Inganekwane sighed and set off once again until she came across Baboon and all her children. Now Inganekwane thought to herself that surley Baboon must have many stories to tell her multitudes of children? When she approached Baboon, she barked at Inganekwane and told her to leave her in peace to look after her many children and that her children were all much too naughty to deserve stories.
Over on the distant hill Inganekwane saw mighty Elephant, now Inganekwane thought to herself that surely one who lives so long must have many stories. Inganekwane made her way hastily over to where she saw old Elephant and came upon him munching quietly on some fresh green grass rumbling sofly as if he was in deep contempolation of something.
Inganekwane hailed Elephant from a distance so as not to surprise him and Elephant turned a curious gaze upon her wondering what this hast human could want of him. Inganekwane immediatly launched into her plea for stories and poor old Elephant had to ask her to slow down so he could follow what she was saying as he had become a little deaf.
After this, Elephant came to an idea. He told Inganekwane to wait for him and he would return with a friend of his who would help her. Inganekwane waited in the shade of a large tree until Elephant came back, but she could see no one with him. Feeling hurt, she almost started to walk away. Just then great Fish Eagle landed in the tree above her and greeted her by name.
Fish Eagle told Inganekwane to follow him and he would lead her to someone far wiser and far older than even he and Elephant who would help her find the stories she was looking for. So Inganekwane set off following Fishe Eagle and after a day and a night they came upon the great ocean. Fish Eagle told Inganekwane to wait at the shore for him and he flew off far over the ocean.
Inganekwane waited and waited until the sun had almost set. She was beginning to think that Fish Eagle had left to go and find his own food and had forgotten about him, but as she was turning to go, she saw a small island approaching the shore in front of her. The small island became bigger and bigger until it was no longer an island but a Sea Turtle!
Turtle called out to Inganekwane to climb on her back and she would take her to someone who would help her with her quest. Inganekwane did so eagerly as she wanted to be able to please her children and her husband. They set off and Turtle dived beneath the surface while Inganekwane held on for dear life.
Turtle continued until before them Inganekwane saw a light. As they came closer, it became brighter and larger until as clear as day she could see a massive city and she realised that Turtle was taking her to the city of the Ancestors!
Turtle swam up to the largest of the palaces and Inganekwane was surprised that she could breath here in the watery realm. She strode on up into the palace and found two people sitting in chairs made of sticks at the end of the entrance hall, both looked very old and both looked very kindly.
“What do you wish of us, woman from the dry lands?” they asked once she reached them and Inganekwane told them how she wanted stories to take back to her family. The Ancestors said to her that they would impart all their stories if she was but to bring them a picture of her home so that the Ancestors could gaze upon living land again as they had not seen it in many many years.
Inganekwane exclaimed joyously that this would be easy to do and so she began the journey home to her husband. Once she reached home she told all her family the tale of her journey and she implored her husband to create his best work for the Ancestors so that they could give them the best stories in return.
He set to work with a fury searching for just the right piece of wood and slowly a beautiful image began to take shape under the work of his deft hands. There were images of his family, their home and all that surrounded it, there were the animals and the plants and even the birds who visited them. The whole village had come to watch this work of art take shape and once it was completed a great cheer went up.
Insumansumane presented Inganekwane with his carving and tied it carefully to her back, she set off and upon reaching the Ocean again, found Turtle waiting for her. They dived beneath the waves and came to the Ancestors palace where she gifted them this splendid carving. Upon setting eyes upon it, the Ancestors wept and they gave to Inganekwane the biggest shell she had ever seen. The Ancestors told her that whenever she desired a story she must hold the shell to her ear and she would hear one.
Delighted with this, she sped back home to her family, making sure to thank all those who helped her along the way. Upon reaching home, the vilage burst into cheers and made a huge feast, they sat around the fire and Inganekwane put the shell to her ear.
In the Beginning…
And that is how stories came to be!