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Sebwgugu and his wife

Many years ago, a man called Sebwgugu married a young and very beautiful woman. The day after they were wed there was a severe drought. Food and water became terribly scarce. One day during the drought, Sebwgugu's wife set out to collect firewood.

While walking the forest floor, she came to a clearing and happened upon a thriving pumpkin patch. She was quite pleased, under the dry conditions, with the rare and lucky find. Carrying as many pumpkins as she could possibly manage, she returned home. That evening she and Sebwgugu had a delicious pumpkin meal. The newly weds were very happy.

One morning, Sebwgugu's wife noticed their supply of pumpkins was running low. She decided to walk back to the patch and collect more. Out of curiosity, Sebwgugu followed his wife. He simply wanted to see from where the pumpkins were coming. When Sebwgugu arrived, he suggested to his wife that the pumpkin patch be weeded in hopes of growing bigger pumpkins. She disagreed and kindly asked that he leave the patch be and let it grow naturally.

The next day, without his wife's knowledge, Sebwgugu returned to the patch and weeded the entire area. Soon after, the pumpkin supply at home was again low. Sebwgugu's wife returned to the patch and found it dry. There were no more pumpkins. Although very upset that he weeded the patch after she asked him not to, she said nothing to her husband. The pumpkins stored at home were quickly finished. The morning after the last pumpkin was consumed, Sebwgugu's wife told her husband that she was going to search for water. She lied. Still upset that he weeded the pumpkin patch, their only source of food during the continued drought, she decided to run away.

Later that evening Sebwgugu's wife stumbled upon a splendid house. She knocked on the door but nobody answered. Surprised to find the door unlocked and needing a place to sleep for the night, she entered the house. Although there was nobody home, the house was filled with food. She cooked herself a nice dinner and went to bed. The next morning, Sebwgugu went looking for his wife and found her at the splendid house. She told him she got lost and had to spend the night. He believed her and they sat down for dinner.

While eating, Sebwgugu's wife shared that the night before, a big and mean animal arrived to the house and asked for help unloading what it was carrying. Scared, she told the big animal to go away, locked all the doors to the house and went back to bed. She then asked Sebwgugu to please not help the mean animal if it returned.

Sure enough, later that night under the moonlit sky the big animal knocked on the door. Sebwgugu answered. The animal asked for help and, ignoring his wife's warning, Sebwgugu obliged. When he stepped outside to help, the big animal ate Sebwgugu in one bite. Proud of his tricking Sebwgugu, the animal yelled into the forest, "I have eaten a man and will now look for a women and do the same." Startled by this, Sebwgugu's wife jumped out of bed and grabbed an ax to protect herself. When the mean animal tried to enter the house, Sebwgugu's wife smote it in the head, killing it at once.

She then found a drum and beat it joyously as the sun rose, throughout the day and all through the night. The entire forest echoed with her brilliant drumming. The next morning, a handsome man appeared. He was the King of the forest and owner of the splendid house, yet was frightened away by the big and mean animal. Hearing the familiar drum he returned to investigate. Sebwgugu's wife told the King all that had happened to her. Impressed by her beauty and bravery the King asked for her hand in marriage. She agreed with a smile, they were married and lived happily ever after.

The End

This Rwanda folk tale was told by 12 year-old Ruzigamanzi in Kinyarwanda and translated to English. When his parents were still alive, before they were killed during the 1994 genocide, they would often tell Ruzigamanzi and his brothers and sisters the story of "Sebwgugu and his wife," as the children fell asleep.

"Do not waste the chances given to you in life and be satisfied with what you have," Ruzigamanzi answered, when asked to share the meaning of the story. "Also, respect what your wife has to say."

This Rwanda folk tale has been passed verbally from generation to generation. It is unknown if the story of "Sebwgugu and his wife," has, prior to this, ever been documented.