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Mbegha's Transformation


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(Shambaa/Tanzania)

Mbegha is a mythic hero.

Mbegha was made king by the people of Shambaai. Because he was considered a supernaturally dangerous being, he was denied his inheritance. He cut his upper teeth first, and was therefore considered responsible for the deaths of his relatives. He became a hunter, and went hunting pigs with the son of a chief whom he had befriended. The chief's son was killed, and Mbegha fled, living in the open, hunting. He lived in a cave in mountains near a place called Ziai. When the women of Ziai went to gather firewood, they saw the smoke of Mbegha's fire. Mbegha told their husbands that he meant no harm, and he gave them gifts of meat, and was given gifts by the people of Ziai. He was welcomed by the Shambaa and taken to Bumbuli, where he killed many wild pigs and was given a wife in gratitude. Then he went to Vugha and killed all the wild pigs there. Mbegha arbitrated disputes, and people were impressed with his reasoning powers. When a lion attacked cows at Kihitu, near Vugha, Mbegha killed it. The Shambaa made him chief of Vugha. From his life in the wild, Mbegha was transformed, in Shambaai, into a protective prince. See also: Sheuta.

Subjects: Religion.


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