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The Golden Urn

By Christine Nderitu

Once upon a time in the vast desert kingdom of Iguna; there lived a wealthy and wise merchant whose name was Manu. Manu owned a one stop *duka which was stocked with everything under the sun. Busy as a bee, Manu would travel far and wide

to ensure all his *duka never lacked the supplies that were needed; food, house-hold items, farm implements and even beauty products.

One fine afternoon, as Manu was taking a break, he contemplated about his business, wondering who the best person to inherit it would be. He thought about each of his seven children and five grand children before he decided to hold a competition. The winner of this competition would be the rightful heir of the business.

The golden urnThe very next day, Manu invited all his relatives for a party-a party that was filled with so much laughter and dancing. It was evening when Manu stood to speak, “Thank you all for coming. I invited you here to inform you that I am now ready to have one of my children or grandchildren inherit this business that I have worked so hard on building.”

Everyone was very excited because they knew how much Manu loved his *duka. Anyone who inherited it would indeed be very wealthy. After all the mumbling stopped, Manu continued, “To establish who the best person is, I will run a competition where each of you will be required to present a unique item to stock in my *duka within a fortnight. The one that impresses me the most will inherit the *duka.”

The search for the ‘perfect’ item continued for days on end. Everyone was keen about the task at hand except Waud, Manu’s last born son. Waud was known to be lazy and even a bit of a bully. Although Waud did not want to look for the item, he really wanted the inheritance.

So he lay on a rock under the shade of a palm tree and started scheming. ‘I will wait until everyone else has collected items to present, then I will steal the best and most unique item and present it as my own,’ he decided. It was not long before Waud noticed Imani’s beautiful golden urn. Imani, a snake charmer, was Manu's first grandchild. The urn was so beautiful that Waud decided it had to be the ‘perfect’ item.

Later that evening, before Imani turned in, she took one last peek inside the urn-now placed in a drawer by her bedside. The snake that resided inside was still alive and well. She then placed the flute that went hand in hand with the urn under her pillow. Confident that she would win, she got into bed and was soon deep asleep.

In the dead of night, Waud quietly snuck into her room, grabbed the urn and ran to his house as swiftly as lightning. He then hid it under his bed without even inspecting it. For him, he had already won the prize and that was that!

Imani woke up to the rude shock of a missing urn.  Frantically, she looked everywhere in vain. A very sad and disappointed Imani could only present her flute. Manu’s feast was as grand as could be. Some of the items presented by Manu’s kin were animals, shiny jewelry, extraordinary tools and so much more. When it was Waud’s turn, he insisted that Imani go first so he would show off his item last.  Imani then stepped up and explained “Someone stole my urn last night… I however have the flute but it only works hand in hand with the urn.”Next came Waud who, proud as a peacock, pulled the stolen urn from a sack and presented it as his own.

“That is the urn I was talking about!” Imani screamed on seeing it.

“I walked for many days and nights to find this urn, so stop lying! “ Waud yelled.

“Well, it appears that we have a problem here. Imani, did you not say that the urn and the flute work together? If that is the case, please show us how to prove that the urn is yours,” Manu calmly requested.

Boldly, Imani sat down cross-legged and played a melodious tune on her flute. To everybody’s dismay, a snake emerged from the beautiful urn and started dancing to the music.

Manu immediately turned to look at Waud, whose jaw was still hanging on the realization that he had been carrying a snake the entire time. “Tell us the truth Waud, is this urn yours? And the snake?” Manu asked.

Too bewildered to speak, Waud just shook his head, leaving no doubt that Imani was indeed the rightful owner of the urn.

Manu then thanked everybody for their hard work and declared Imani

the winner and rightful heir of his wealth. “In all my travels, I have never laid eyes on such a beautiful urn with a fascinating creature inside it,” Manu concluded. Manu taught Imani all the secrets of his trade and became a very wise and wealthy merchant.

*duka- Shop in Swahili.


First published in BINGWA Magazine Issue 11 2013


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