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Liongo's Fatal Weakness Is Discovered


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(Pokomo, Swahili/Kenya)

Liongo was an epic hero.

In the city of Shanga lived a great and strong man, Liongo. He was an oppressive man, so the people decided to make him a captive. They imprisoned him, but he escaped and continued to harass the people. They again seized him, and bound him in chains. His mother sent him food each day. Months passed, and Liongo sang beautiful songs, entrancing all who heard them. People came to the prison to hear him sing. He composed songs with encoded meanings that only his mother and her slave could decipher. He sent a message thereby to his mother, telling her to put a file in a cake. The mother did this, and Liongo then asked for a horn, cymbals, and a gong: he was going to take leave of the people. He sang while others played the musical instruments, all the time filing the fetters. When the people looked up, they saw that he had broken the door down and had come outside to them. They fled, but Liongo caught them. And he continued to harass and kill people. They tried to seize him again, but he saw through their plot. They finally discovered his one weakness: his nephew discovered that Liongo could be killed if he was stabbed in the navel with a copper needle. The people gave the nephew a needle, and he stabbed his uncle in the navel. Liongo awoke because of the pain, and, taking his bow and arrows, went to a place near the water wells. He knelt down there, readying himself with his bow. And there he died. In the morning, the people who came to the wells to draw water saw Liongo, and they thought he was alive. They told his mother to speak to him, and she found that he was dead. They buried him. His grave is to be seen at Ozi to this day. Then they seized that young man, Liongo's nephew, and killed him.

Subjects: Religion.


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