Mbungi and the Head of His Wife

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Mbungi told his wife to dig and prepare cassava and cut plantains as preparation for a hunting and fishing trip. They put their goods into a canoe and set out. Mbungi dug a hole and set his traps. The next morning, he found an antelope and a bushpig in the hole. He took these to the camp, cut them up, and gave them to his wife to cook. As she was about to take her portion, her husband pretended to go and ask the forest-people if it was proper for her to eat that meat. He brought brought back a message that if she ate the meat the traps would lose their efficacy and ensnare no more animals. The husband had all the meat for himself and his wife went hungry. Mbungi found many animals in his traps; the woman, because of the prohibition, did not have any. One day, she made some fish traps and set them, and on her return to the camp the husband wanted to know where she had been. She refused to tell him. She went and found many fish in her traps, which she brought to the camp and cooked. Mbungi returned unsuccessful from his traps. He told his wife to bring her fish to him. But she said that she must first ask the forest-people if he could eat the fish. She brought back a reply that he was not to eat the fish; if he did so the fish traps would lose their effectiveness. Mbungi was hungry. Days passed; he caught no more animals, while his wife always caught many fish. He became very thin and angry, and he cut off his wife's head, buried it and the trunk in the ground, and went to his town. As he traveled, he heard a voice, telling him to wait, they would go together. He saw the head of his wife coming along the road, calling after him. He cut the head into small pieces and buried it again. But again he heard it shouting. He cut it and buried it again, and again, but it was no use; it continued to follow and call after him. When he reached the town and his wife's family asked him about her, he said that she was coming. He denied their accusations that he had killed her. But while he was denying it, the head of his wife came into the town. When the members of her family saw it, they immediately tied up Mbungi, and they killed him. That is how murder was introduced into the world.

Subjects: Religion.

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