Here's another story from that story-teller collection I mentioned last week.
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Deep in the heart of the jungle, far away from anything that mattered, lay a village close to the banks of the slow moving river Omba. It was a peaceful place to live, mostly because they were so far away from anything that mattered that raiders seldom deemed the village worth the trouble.
In truth, the greatest excitement the people of the village ever had was when First Wife caught Chief Akanni with the Widow and chased him, stark naked, along the bank of the river Omba. He might have got away if he hadn’t tripped on a tree root and fallen into the river.
One day, First Wife went in search of her husband. “Akanni,” she said when she found him. “We have no meat. What are you going to do about this?”
Akanni, who was lying in the shade on the bank of the river, trying in vain to catch a cool breeze, sighed deeply. One of these days he was going to have to do something about First Wife. She made far too many demands of him.
“Well?” she demanded, foot tapping.
“Of course, my wife, I will see to it at once.”
She sniffed, once, then gave a sharp nod and departed.
Akanni sighed again and eyed a group of his warriors gathered around a game of bones. Who to send? He frowned slightly as he watched them, then a smile lit his dour features. Kamau, the perfect choice. Not only was Kamau winning at bones, putting Akanni in a favorable light with the other warriors for sending him off, but it was rumoured he’d been seeing the Widow.
“Kamau!” he called, his choice made.
Kamau looked up from the game, clearly irritated.
“You must leave the game and go at once into the jungle and find meat for the fire.”
“Ask another to go, I am busy.” Kamau turned back to the game. The other warriors drew back a little, muttering. Although Akanni was a good chief in most ways, he was known for his temper. It almost matched that of First Wife.
Akanni rose to his feet. “I am your Chief and I say you will go!” he bellowed.
Kamau rose as well. He eyed Akanni warily, then agreed. “Very well, I will go.” Without another word he picked up his spear and stomped off into the jungle.
Akanni made himself comfortable on the bank again, still glowering. The warriors returned to their game of bones. It was well known that Kamau thought much of himself. It was also known, but never spoken aloud, that Kamau thought he would make a better chief than Akanni.
Kamau gradually slowed his pace. He was on a hunt, best not to scare away the game. As he glanced around, seeking a game trail to follow, he tripped and fell. Regaining his feet he looked and saw that he had tripped over a skull on the jungle floor.
“What is this?” he exclaimed. “How did you get here?”
“Talking brought me here,” replied the skull.
Kamau jumped back in amazement. He looked around wildly. “Who said that?”
“I did,” replied the skull. “You asked, and I answered. It’s the usual way things are done.”
Dropping his spear, Kamau ran all the way back to the village. His arrival made quite a stir, caused no little part by the fact that he’d returned empty handed. So excited was he that he could hardly get the words out to tell everyone what had happened.
Akanni pushed his way to the center of the crowd that surrounded Kamau.
“What’s this? What has happened? Where is the meat you were sent after?”
“In the jungle,” Kamau gasped. “A wonder such as you have never seen. There is a skull that talked to me.”
There were a few snickers from the crowd and people began to drift away. This was not the first time Kamau had tried to pull a prank.
“No, it’s true! I heard it as clear as First Wife yelling at Akanni.”
Akanni was not laughing. He was growing more and more angry. “Kamau, you were warned about your pranks. Now go back and get the meat you were sent for.”
Kamau looked solemnly at his chief. “I swear on my life this is true. I can take you to it.”
In the end, a small party of warriors, including Akanni, followed Kamau into the jungle. Akanni was still angry, more so at having to trudge through the jungle in the hot afternoon. At last they reached the place where the skull lay.
“There,” Kamau pointed triumphantly. “Just as I said.”
“You also said it could talk,” said Akanni, unimpressed.
“Just listen,” Kamau said. “Skull, how did you get here?”
The skull said nothing.
“Skull, what brought you here?” repeated Kamau, a little desperately.
Akanni’s temper raged. “I have had enough of you and your pranks! Off with his head!”
One of the warriors, coincidentally the one who had been losing the most in the game of bones, struck of Kamau’s head before Akanni could change his mind. It rolled on the jungle floor, coming to rest beside the skull. Akanni and his warriors picked up Kamau’s body and carried it back to the village for burial.
When they were gone, the skull spoke to Kamau. “What is this? How did you get here?”
Kamu replied, “Talking brought me here!”