10. The Vadhindi

He leapt up and put the hot porridge to his lips, blowing and slurping it. He cleaned the plate dry in under a minute.

‘You’re done already?’ Nyasha looked astonished when he saw the empty bowl in front of Tawana as he walked back into the kitchen. He was carrying a small sack over his shoulders. Rudo was still sound asleep.

‘My father always told me to eat like a man,’ Tawana responded.

He laughed, ‘And how does a man eat?’

‘Not like a woman.’

He laughed again then he tossed his knobkerrie at him.

Tawana actually noticed the knobkerrie in that moment. He had not realized that he had been carrying it since the night the Gorivas chased him.

‘It’s time to go, Masimba,’ Nyasha told him.

He nodded then stood up quickly.

Strange eyes were falling upon Tawana as the two walked towards the chief’s home. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

Nyasha noticed it and grinned. ‘Don’t worry, the chief’s home isn’t that far off.’

‘But then why did you wake me up so early in the morning?’

‘If anyone had found out that I let a lost child into my home without reporting to the chief first, then I could be whipped for stealing a child even if the child can confirm that he wasn’t stolen…it’s just against our culture.’

He nodded slowly in understanding.

Chief Kindi’s homestead was not that appealing. There were at least four buildings in his home: the kitchen hut, the guest hut, the throne room hut and the chief’s sleeping hut which was three times the size of the guest hut. There were about at least thirteen or fourteen cows in his kraal and a dozen or more chickens could be seen pecking on the ground in a distance.

‘So, what do you think?’ Nyasha asked for Tawana’s opinion, grinning.

He shrugged a response, ‘Well, Chief Mbada’s home is a bit bigger and there are a lot more cows and chickens…and goats.’

Nyasha broadened his grin, ‘In short; you’re not impressed, right?’

He shrugged again, ‘Well…’

‘You don’t have to say anything. I know that Chief Mbada is very rich.’

Chief Kindi’s hut was full of beautiful decorations. He was sitting on his throne which was on top of a lion’s skin and his wife was beside him. Behind them were two of his bodyguards who were massive and looked stiff like logs. He looked very old and so did his wife.

‘What is this, Nyasha?’ he asked him when the two walked in.

When they reached within a short distance from him, Nyasha fell to the floor face first, bowing in respect to the chief. ‘Bow down, Tawana,’ he whispered to him.

Tawana was still occupied with the view of the chief’s hut. He did not bow down.

‘Chief Kindi: The great chief of Chaponda village, the conqueror of…’

‘Get to the point, Nyasha,’ the chief interrupted him getting impatient.

He half raised his head to face him. ‘Your Humbleness; I bring you Tawana Masimba of Matanda village…’

The titles of all chiefs in the Shona villages were given according to the chief’s greatest traits and in the case of Chief Kindi, his greatest trait was humility thus he was referred to as, “Your Humbleness”. Chief Mbada’s greatest trait was known to be bravery thus he was at times referred to as, “Your Courageousness” or “His Courageousness”.

‘…He escaped from his village after his father went missing there…and also his mother got married to the chief…’

‘This story isn’t making any sense,’ the chief’s wife spoke. Her eyes looked sharp and like her husband’s, looked wise with age.

‘He took her legally…according to…“tradition”, Your Humbleness.’

‘Are you telling me there are chiefs who still practice this?’ Chief Kindi looked surprised.

‘It surprised me too, Your Humbleness.’

‘Continue,’ the chief said stroking his great grey beard.

‘And then…’

The chief raised his hand, bringing Nyasha to an abrupt and fearful stop. ‘Let the boy speak.’

All three of them looked at Tawana, the room now becoming tenser than before.

Tawana suddenly felt anger rise inside him. When he looked at this chief, all he saw was the evil Chief Mbada. The only chief he ever knew stole his mother and father from him, and this old, gray-haired ancestor on a throne was no different.

He slanted his eyes at the old chief, anger conveyed through the small slits that showed. It was as though he intended to see through Chief Kindi, past the bony frame all the way into his soul.

Tawana said, ‘The same night my mother got married to Chief Mbada is the same night I woke up running from four of the chief’s huntsmen. I fell into a pit and Nyasha found me the next day and pulled me out.’

Nyasha twitched for two reasons; that Tawana had spilled the beans that he had spent a night at his house and also that he had not used the title, “Your Humbleness”, in his statement.

The chief took a sharp and weary breath then said, ‘You must have gone through a lot, Tawana.’

‘Everything I went through yesterday made me a man,’ he responded.

‘But you are just a child,’ the chief’s wife, Mai Kindi (Mrs. Kindi) said.

‘Everything I went through that night is more than what any other man goes through in his lifetime,’ he replied, not even sparing Mai Kindi the same foul stare he held for her husband.

‘And what about the men who fight in wars?’ the chief asked him.

‘Those who fight in wars are only creating experiences for themselves.’ He concluded with a shrug.

‘And what do you mean by this?’ Mai Kindi asked him.

‘The men that go to war don't have to take life. But I had no choice over what I went through. Last night was my entire life of war.’

‘But are not men obligated to fight in wars?’ Mai Kindi asked him, leaning a little closer from her seat to listen more intently.

‘Yes they are but the choice to take another man’s life is theirs to make,’ Tawana said.

The chief began to gently stroke his beard. ‘Nyasha…’ This sage-like stroking of the facial hair went on for a while.

‘Yes, Your Humbleness?’ he bowed his face to the ground again.

‘I want you to show our guest here around.’

‘Whatever you say I do, Your Humbleness.’ He bowed twice in respect before standing up. ‘Don’t turn around, just follow my lead,’ he whispered to Tawana. Literally turning your back to the chief was regarded as a serious offence. An offence that could cost you your life. Mbada used a spear.

Tawana followed Nyasha’s advice. He began walking backwards slowly, but his eyes were on the chief the whole time. Not for once did he blink but the veins at the sides of his head rippled in rage.

There was not much Nyasha could actually show him. The only live things in the chief’s home were the chickens and the cows which were being herded out by the herdsmen. He led him behind the huts towards the kraal.

Five men were grouped outside the kraal. Some of these men were very huge.

‘Who are they?’ Tawana asked Nyasha out of curiosity.

‘Those men are called “The Vadhindi” (The Stompers). They are the chief’s mightiest warriors and they come to the kraal to perfect their fighting skills.’

‘In the kraal?! In dung?!’ He began to laugh.

‘You’ll find out the reason someday, Tawana.’

‘Who’s the baby, Nyasha?’ one of the five men asked him. He was the second biggest of the five warriors and he was flexing his enormous shoulders whilst walking towards them.

‘It’s a long story,’ Nyasha replied. ‘Tawana, this is Shumba (the lion). He got this name for his courage.’

‘I still don’t get why the chief’s mightiest warriors have to train in cow dung!’

‘All will be explained in time, Tawana,’ Nyasha replied.

‘If you won’t answer my question then at least…at least talk to the chief and ask on my behalf that I be trained by these… “Vadhindi”. ’

All of them burst into laughter including two who had resumed to wrestle inside the kraal. Nyasha was also fighting hard to control his laughter.

Tawana gritted his teeth in anger at them.

Related Chapters

Latest Chapter