Xhosa is a language and a people who are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa right after the Zulus. At least a dozen kinds of clicks are part of this language. Nelson Mandela sought for peace in a troubled land and came from Xhosa. These Xhosa women are having great laughs and is seen on the South African Explored website here: https://www.sa-venues.com/language-xhosa.htm.
Present-Day Xenial & Xenodochial
The Ubuntu Cultural Festival celebrates humanity by bringing many tribes together and sharing the traditional dances, songs, and stories of each area. Though, it is more than entertainment and strives to educate through inspirational speakers on the following topics as listed on their website: prevention of community crime/violence, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, women/child rape/abuse, xenophobia, rhino poaching, importance of education and more. Explore this Festival’s website here: http://xhosaculture.co.za/ubuntu-cultural-festival/. You can also see an article about the inaugural event on August 27, 2016 here: http://xhosaculture.co.za/ubuntu-cultural-festival/.
Past Xenial & Xenodochial (Folktale)
Although the book is titled “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales,” it is fitting that the story “The Hare and the Tree Spirit” is from Xhosa of where he originated. Most of the other tales in this book are from many different countries and tribes. As can be figured out from the title, the author–or who retold these tales–was Nelson Mandela and this link is to a reprint published by W. W. Norton & Company.
Here is a summary:
An old woman tripped on a broken pot on the path. She cursed that whoever left that broken pot would have their firstborn struck dumb and the only way to break the curse was for someone to be as foolish. A hard-working couple happened to accidentally leave that broken pot and their only child–a daughter named Tembe–was struck dumb. Although they consulted with medicine men, no one had an answer as to why it happened or how to release the curse. The girl still grew up to be beautiful and kind, though not a word escaped her lips. The hard-working couple were worried that despite her beauty, no one would marry their daughter. No one did want to marry her except a young man named Nthu. Before asking to marry her, he wanted her to be released from the curse. He walked to an euphorbia tree and poured out his wishes to it, hoping that the spirits of the tree would gran t his request. Mvundla the Hare happened to have his home under that tree and was awoken by all the pleading. The Hare responded in a deep voice as if it was a tree spirit. The Hare said he would think about Nthu’s wish if vegetables and berries were left at the bottom of the tree every day. Nthu did as was desired. Though, the longer that Nthu did this kindness, the more guilty that Hare felt in not fulfilling the wish. Finally, Hare hopped to the Tembe’s home and investigated. The girl planted millet seedlings and did not notice the Hare. To gain the girl’s attention, he followed the girl and re-planted her millet seedlings upside down. The girl turned to do the next row, saw the foolish way the Hare had planted, and spoke for the first time to chastise the Hare. When she realized she had spoken, she laughed and ran to talk to her parents after so many years of not being able to do so. The Hare knew he would not get a thank you though knew it was only a matter of time before Nthu would stop giving him vegetables and berries.
Interesting Notes on Kindness
- Great unfairness can come to the most kind yet life still goes on
- The girl’s beauty and kindness was enough for Nthu though he thought more about her than for his sake on having her voice return
- Nthu sought to help and turned to what he thought would have enough power or abilities to accomplish the deed
- Hare, although still the trickster, turns it into a kind deed
- Receiving kindness long enough can eventually change someone’s heart such as it did for Hare when receiving those vegetables and berries for so long
- Kindness is not always thanked yet still makes all the difference to the recipient (and assumed the giver of the kindness)
What stories of kindness do you know associated with Xhosa or South Africa? Anywhere in the world – past or present? Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 with free performances May 21-24, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).
We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.)