Stare at Daggers, by Mary M. Manyando
Mary M. Manyando's children's book, Stare at Daggers, opens up with the arrival and the co-existence of white people with indigenous inhabitants in some place in today's Namibia, and the birth of the local king's son, Brutus.
They came on horseback from a land beyond the oceans, they of fair skin, long hair and eyes that were not like the normal African sunset. They had with them a black book which they read together on a particular day while they clasped their hands as if in prayer. This was all alien to the indigenous inhabitants whom they dwelled amongst, for if these fair-skinned people clasped their hands in prayer, who was it they prayed to? The indigenous inhabitants prayed to their gods, but these gods had their statues carved either in ebony wood or hard stone. The people brought them offerings of first harvest or the heart of a freshly slaughtered beast, of which many roamed the vast expanses of the land. The indigenous inhabitants were wary of these strangers in their land, but they trusted the wisdom of their king, King Mukwaso. He told them that these fair-skinned people, whoever they were and wherever they came from, didn't seek conflict. They spoke in peace, although in a strange language that sounded like that of a singing bird. These fair-skinned people also had different amazing implements that made their work easier. They had things that delicately cut meat and things that were pulled by their horses and tilled the land in a matter of hours. They also built strong houses made of stone, whereas the indigenous inhabitants lived in grass dwellings. What also amazed King Mukwaso was that they had medicinal potions that could cure any ailments that the indigenous inhabitants suffered from. It was then that King Mukwaso officially ordered that no one should harm these fair-skinned people, for they could learn from them. He extended an invitation to the fair-skinned man who always carried the black book. He learnt how to speak with him in his language and the fair-skinned man taught his people how to read and write. It was a momentous occasion in King Mukwaso's life when he learnt how to write his name. But what he refused to compromise on was the belief in the gods - his people's gods that had sustained them since time immemorial. On this matter, King Mukwaso and the fair-skinned man agreed to disagree. However, they lived a harmonious life, borrowing and sharing whatever they had with each other. But one humid night, a cry broke the serenity of the indigenous inhabitants. King Mukwaso's beloved wife was in labour and, try as they might, the traditional midwives could not deliver the baby. King Mukwaso huddled in his hut as he attempted to block out the cries coming from outside. He feverishly asked the gods to spare his wife and deliver his child. It was to be his first since his wife had been touched by a curse that made her unable to carry a baby to full term. Her painful cries broke into his prayers. He looked in the direction where the cries were coming from and he realised that he couldn't bear it any longer. He had to seek help and he knew just where this help would come from. He draped a leopard skin over his shoulders to shield himself from the night's chill, and set off to seek help from the only man who could save his wife and the unborn child. That man was the fair-skinned man who always carried the black book. "King Mukwaso?" the fair-skinned man asked, looking surprised upon seeing the royal man standing in his doorway. "It is I, my friend." - "But what brings you here at this time of the night?" [...]
This is an excerpt from Stare at Daggers, by Mary M. Manyando.
Titel: Stare at Daggers
Author: Mary M. Manyando
Publisher: Macmillan Education Namibia
Softcover, 15 x 21 cm, 82 pages
Manyando, Mary M. im Namibiana-Buchangebot
An easy and enjoyable to read, Manyando's 'Stare at Daggers' is proof that quality, creative storytelling in contemporary Namibia is alive and well.