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#ClimateStory4Kids: Mzansi and the Mystery Floods

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#ClimateStory4Kids: Mzansi and the Mystery Floods

“Mawingu yanakuja! Mawingu yanakuja!”*

The town crier’s piercing voice rang in the air, slicing through the bargaining voices of buyers and sellers in the village square.

Commercial activities immediately came to a halt as sellers packed their wares and people hurried off to their homes.

The town crier’s alarm meant one thing; the village would soon be flooded. Katakwi was a small village just a few kilometers from the Kazuli Mountains.

Villagers used to experience mild rainfall until a few years ago when, for unknown reasons, they began to experience heavy downpours which lasted for days and led to flash floods.

The flash floods would destroy their crops and livestock. Their huts too were not spared. The village’s chief priest had said the moon goddess, Akila, was angry with the people of Katakwi village and had chosen to punish them.

They had offered countless sacrifices from their thinning farm proceeds. Yet, the floods persisted. To avoid being caught unawares, the villagers employed a town crier who warned them whenever rain clouds began to gather from the mountainside.

Once the alarm sounded, they would go home, carry their already packed bags, and head uphill where they would settle till the floods ceased. That was why, when the alarm had sounded earlier on, they knew what to do. It was their reality.

As the villagers slowly made their way uphill, a young boy, about eight years old, walked beside an old man. They were behind the long line of villagers.

He had a monkey on his shoulder which he stroked with his left hand while his other hand held the old man’s hand. They were in deep conversation.

“When will this suffering ever end? My old bones are too fragile for these long walks…I can hear them rattle as I walk, Mzansi,” the old man complained. Spitting the tobacco he had been chewing, he adjusted his tobacco sack on his stooped shoulder.

Mzansi slowed down to match his grandfather’s pace. “We’ll soon get to the shelter, grandpa. Here, let me help you with that,” he reached out to grab the sack.

“No, Mzansi. You’re already burdened carrying your own sack and that monkey. Besides, you’re too young to be suffering this fate with us.

I wish we could go back in time… to when we had just the right amount of rainfall, to when we could farm without worrying, to when we didn’t have to abandon our homes.” The old man shook his head, eyes teary from the thought of what could have been.

“What went wrong, grandpa?” Mzansi asked, genuine curiosity shining in his small brown eyes.

Mzansi’s grandpa stopped suddenly, turned in the opposite direction, and pointed a bony forefinger to the Kazuli Mountains. It was getting dark but Mzansi could make out the silhouette of the towering Kazuli Mountains from where they stood.

“That is where the answer lies,” the old man announced grimly.

He continued, “There is a change in our weather. Nobody knows why. But the effect is the flash floods that come from the mountainside.”

Why hasn’t anything been done since you know the problem?” Mzansi wanted to know.

The old man shook his head. “We cannot move the mountains; neither can we abandon our homeland. The least we can hope for is an intervention by the moon goddess, Akila. She will help us when the time is right,” he added.

Mzansi’s forehead creased in a frown as he tried to make sense of his grandpa’s words. In all of his short years on earth, he couldn’t understand why the goddess would allow her people to suffer. She was supposed to be powerful, right?

Mzansi wasn’t convinced. He had a lot to ask his grandpa. “Well, it doesn’t seem she cares. We might as well save our land. There must be something we can do.”

As if aware of the thoughts running through Mzansi’s mind, the old man scolds him. “Don’t go getting any ideas in that little head of yours, Mzansi. I know you. You’re just as inquisitive and daring as your late father.”

Mzansi rolled his eyes and moved his grandpa towards the line of traveling villagers, continuing their journey downhill. It was dusk by the time they settled behind the rocks on the dry stretch of land that was the Sana wastelands.

Mzansi lay on a mat with his monkey. His grandpa was already fast asleep on another mat beside them. “The long walk must have taken a toll on him,” Mzansi whispered to himself.

His mind went to the discussion they had had earlier about the reason for the flash floods. He didn’t believe their fate lay in the hands of some deity.

An idea came to his mind. What if he took a look at the mountain. Surely, he may find something that could help his people. He may even find the Akila goddess or whatever her name was and ask her to undo whatever voodoo she had cast on the village.

No sooner had the thought crossed Mzansi’s mind than he gently stood up, careful not to wake his sleeping grandpa. He carried his monkey and tiptoed off into the distance.

Though it was pitch dark as he made his way to the top of the mountain, the moon did its best to throw some light along Mzansi’s path.

He had found a hidden path at the other side of the mountain. He guessed it was where the chief priest followed to offer sacrifices to the goddess.

As he got to the top of the mountain, he saw beavers scampering around. They were carrying sticks. They were probably going to build a dam with them.

Wait! Sticks and dam. A brilliant idea came to Mzansi’s mind.

He looked down to where his village lay in the far distance. It was only a matter of hours before the flash floods would build and destroy all they had.

He studied the edge of the mountain. There was nothing blocking the flow of water. That was why the floods freely flowed towards the village.

He started gathering sticks and wove them together with the sticky mud on the mountain. He lay them at the edge of the mountain and continued that way till it began to go form a wall high enough to divert the water to the opposite side.

By the time Mzansi was done, it was almost dawn. He examined his work and from what he could see, it would hold.

He made his way back to the wastelands as fast as his small feet could carry him. Having got to the settlement before the first villager got up, he heaved a big sigh of relief.

The people waited for a few more days before moving back to Milele village. As they made their way back, he could hear people expressing fear as they were certain they would meet the village in ruins.

Surprisingly, that was not the case at all.

As they neared the village, their huts were still intact. It was just as they had left it. Not thing was out of place. How?

The villagers began to murmur.

“The goddess has forgiven us,” they started jubilating.

Mzansi was not having it. No way he was going to let some lame goddess take his shine. He made his way through the gathering and got their attention.

Holding his hands to his mouth, he shouted, “Great people of Milele, it was not your goddess that saved the village.”

As the rejoicing villagers quieted, Mzansi went ahead to give them a rundown of what he did.

Astonished at his brilliance, the villagers gathered around the little boy. They lifted him in the air and praised him for his effort.

This meant they didn’t have to worry whenever it rained because it wouldn’t get to them. Thanks to a little boy named Mzansi.

End of Story

*Mawingu Yanakuja is a Swahili expression that means “Clouds are coming’

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