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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 990


The Story of Demane and Demazana

Book Name:

Kaffir (Xhosa) Folk-Lore

Tradition: Shout Africa, Kaffir, Xhosa

Once upon a time a brother and sister, who were twins and orphans, were obligied on account of ill usage, to run away from their relatives. The boy's name was Demane, the girl's Demazana.

They went to live in a cave that had two holes to let in air and light, the entrance to which was protected by a very strong door, with a fastening inside. Demane went out hunting by day, and told his sister that she was not to roast any meat while he was absent, lest the cannibals should discover their retreat by the smell. Thc girl would have been quite safe if she had done as her brother commanded. But she was wayward, and one day she took some buffalo meat and put it on a fire to roast.

A cannibal smelt the flesh cooking, and went to the cave, but found the door fastened. So he tried to imitate Demane's voice, and asked to be admitted, singing this song:-

                    "Demazana, Demazana,

                    Child of my mother,

                    Open this cave to me.

                    The swallows can enter it.

                    It has two apertures."

Demazana said: "No. You are not my brother; your voice is not like his."

The cannibal went away, but after a little time came back again, and spoke in another tone of voice: "Do let me in, my sister."

The girl answered: "Go away, you cannibal; your voice is hoarse, you are not my brother."

So he went away and consulted with another cannibal. He said: "What must I do to obtain what I desire?"

He was afraid to tell what his desire was, lest the other cannibal should want a share of the girl.

His friend said: "You must burn your throat with a hot iron."

He did so, and then no longer spoke hoarse. Again he presented himself before the door of the cave, and sang,--

                    "Demazana, Demazana,

child of my mother,

                    Open this cave to me.

                    The swallows can enter it.

                    It has two apertures."

The girl was deceived. She believed him to be her brother come back from hunting, so she opened the door. The cannibal went in and seized her.

As she was being carried away, she dropped some ashes here and there along the path. Soon after this, Demane, who had taken nothing that day but a swarm of bees, returned and found his sister gone. He guessed what had happened, and followed the path by means of the ashes until he came to Zim's dwelling. The cannibal's family were out gathering firewood, but he was at home, and had just put Demazana in a big bag, where he intended to keep her till the fire was made.

Demane said: "Give me water to drink, father."

Zim replied: "I will, if you will promise not to touch my bag."

Demane promised. Then Zim went to get some water; and while he was away, Demane took his sister out of the bag, and put the bees in it, after which they both concealed themselves.

When Zim came with the water, his wife and son and daughter came also with firewood.

He said to his daughter: "There is something nice in the bag; go bring, it."

She went, but the bees stung her hand, and she called out: "It is biting."

He sent his son, and afterwards his wife, but the result was the same. Then he became angry, and drove them outside, and having put a block of wood in the doorway, he opened the bag himself. The bees swarmed out and stung his head, particularly his eyes, so that he could not see.

There was a little hole in the thatch, and through this he forced his way. He jumped about, howling with pain. Then he ran and fell headlong into a pond, where his head stuck fast in the mud, and he became a block of wood like the stump of a tree. The bees made their home in the stump, but no one could get their honey, because, when any one tried, his hand stuck fast.

Demane and Demazana then took all Zim's possessions, which were very great, and they became wealthy people.

Comments:

Among the natives of South Africa relationship is viewed differently from what it is by Europeans. I have more than once heard Kaffirs accused of falsehood because they asserted one person to be their father or mother at one time and a different person at another time. Yet they were telling the truth according to their ideas. A common complaint concerning native servant girls is that they claim every other person they meet as a brother or a sister. Now, from their point of view, what we should term cousins are really brothers and sisters. It is not poverty of language, for they have words to express shades of relationship where we have none, but a difference of ideas, that causes them to use the same word for father and paternal uncle, for brother and cousin, etc. Bawo is the word used in addressing father, father's brother, or father's half-brother. Little children say Tata. But there are three different words for father, according as a person is speaking of his own father or uncle, of the father or uncle of the person he is speaking to, or of the father or uncle of the person he is speaking of. Speaking of my father, bawo is the word used: of your father, uyihlo; of his father, uyise. Malume is the brother of any one called mother. Ma is the word used in addressing mother, any wife of father, or the sister of any of these. The one we should term mother can only be distinguished from the others, when speaking of her, by describing her as uma wam kanye-i.e., my real mother; or uma ondizalayo-i.e., the mother who bore me. Speaking of my mother, ma is the word used: of your mother, unyoko; of his or her mother, unina. A paternal aunt is addressed as dadebobawo-i.e., sister of my father. Mnakwetu is the word used by females in addressing a brother, half-brother, or male cousin. Males, when addressing any of these relations older than themselves, use the word mkuluwa; and when addressing one younger than themselves say mninawe. Dade is used in addressing a sister, a half-sister, or a female cousin. Females, when speaking to any of these relations younger than themselves, usually say msakwetu. Mtakama is an endearing form of expression, meaning child of my mother. Bawomkula is the address of a grandfather. Makulu is grandmother. Mtshana is the son of a sister.

Abstract:

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