“Have I ever told you the story of the two daughters?” The
Laibon began, “The younger of the two, Mae, was beautiful. She
would bring the market to a halt and jolt every man’s imagination.
Her hair flowed like the rivers in Mau and her skin was as soft as
that of a baby. But her beauty made her ignore more important
aspects of her character. She grew vain, giving her body away to
anyone who could give her silver and gold. The eldest, Nane, was
the opposite in all things. She woke up early to help her father on
the farm and would even take the produce and sell it in the
market. Nane listened to counsel and did as she was told. She was
opposite even in beauty. As pretty as the bark of a tree, some
villagers would joke.
When the time came to marry, long queues ran throughout
the village and beyond for Mae, with all kinds of people; rich men,
peasants, noblemen, carpenters, blacksmiths, even thieves, and
sorcerers. She marvelled at her luck, and with her vain desires, set
out to pick the wealthiest of them all. Meanwhile, Nane’s queue
only had the dust and scorn from the villagers. But then, after
weeks of waiting, one man lined up in her queue. Rumour had it
that the man was a prince from the neighbouring lands, the richest
in the world. Handsome too.
“And Mae got jealous of her sister’s good fortune and convinced
her to trade places. ‘You could choose whomever you want from
my long line’, she insisted. Nane, unconvinced by the prince’s
riches and physique, agreed to her sister’s terms. But
unfortunately, once everyone learnt it was the ugly sister they
were lining up for, they left dejected. Nane ran back to her father,
promising to always stick to the man whom she knew loved her
despite her appearance while Mae ran off into the sunset with her
“But Mae would discover that she had made a grave error.
She did not know that the neighbouring lands treated dogs better
than foreign women. Any man would sleep with her whenever
their blood got hot. Her hands were mangled by work and toil and
her face bruised by the beating she got from her husband. And
after difficult labour in the day, she slept with pigs and sheep at
night, the only place she could. Mae no longer turned heads and no
man would give her silver, gold or listen to her cries. Eventually,
tired of her state and her pride refusing her to go back to her
father, she tied a noose around her neck and dangled from a tree.
“We often yearn for the good in another’s hands, blind to
whatever good we already have, but in our hands, it may turn to
“A wise tale Laibon,” Chief Kasaine said.
“Is it!? Then explain why it is that all of you want to take
what does not belong to you!” Ladama’s throat could be seen
through his buck teeth as he turned hysterical. He got up and
started slowly towards Kasaine, his eyes fixated on the second
chief as his hand reached for his panga which he promptly drew
and swung at him. Chief Kasaine, shocked by the sudden attack
barely drew his panga in time to meet the Laibon’s, “This one here is
a liar and a traitor! I should cut you down!”
Excerpt from Lords Over Kenia: The Prophecy of the Moon Chief by V. W. Matinde. To find out where to order and get LOKe, click here.