In Scene Three, the case of the thief,
the actor Manyeke is the center of attention. He is small enough to look like
a pygmy and although he is no longer young he is very agile. His voice is resonant
but he speaks very rapidly and tends to stutter. He is the troupe's clown; most
of his appearances are all gesture and action and few words. Manyeke is decidedly
not an ideal producer of transcribable texts. In rehearsal everyone had great
fun with his portrayal of a petty thief caught stealing a few bananas. Feza,
playing the woman who owns the field, accuses him before the chief while the
guards have trouble restraining Manyeke. They literally "picked him up,"
lifting him up and carrying him while he tries to wriggle free from their grip,
loudly protesting his innocence. His line of defense is laconic: paka njala,
I was just hungry. To no avail, he is punished, because, as Bwana Cheko puts
it, mwizi ni nduku ya mulozi, the thief is the sorcerer's brother.
This summary contains the outlines of the scene as it was eventually performed; it fails to convey an impression of the work that went into the final shape which was reduced to bare essentials in the filmed performance. The transcript/ translation of the rehearsal presented here is abbreviated. Left out are a group discussion about how to set up the scene and the first part where Manyeke is accused by Feza, arrested by the chief's guards and first brought before Bwana Cheko.
|1. Bwana Cheko: Chefu/ tunaona tu: tulikuwa: na notable wangu pale Masimango: tushitukie tu: mu mukini makelele/ beko hapa na muntu/ ah: ah: kunakuwa lufu: kunakuwa bintu gani: nini: mm/ tuangarie: bagardes yako: bo haba/ mama Feza: ku mukongo/ na mutoto huyu bataunga banamunyonga nkamba/ ni nini anfanya? asema oh: anaiba maboké1 mu mashamba/||1. Bwana Cheko: Chief, my fellow notable Masimango and I were together over there when all of a sudden we were startled to hear noise in the village. There they are [dragging along] a person. We were surprised, has someone died, what was going on? Then we look and see your guards, followed by mama Feza. And this young person all tied up with a rope around him. What did he do [we asked]? Oh, he stole bananas in the fields.|
Bwana Cheko and Feza: maboké/
Mufwankolo: bya mingi?
Feza: byo hibi baba/
Bwana Cheko: tatu/ tatu/ njo tunaangaria tunasema ah: ah: paka hapa? sauti ya sultani: alitosha paka hapa sauti yake: kumbe twende tukafike kwanza: kule/ tukafike na huyu mutoto kule: nawaza: Masimango iko pale: ataungapo sauti: ya mambo/
Bwana Cheko and Feza: Bananas.
Feza: Here they are, baba.
Bwana Cheko: Three. Three. So we looked at this and said: This happens now and here where the chief has just given his speech? So let us go there first, let us go there with this youngster. I think Masimango over there will add what he has to say about the matter.
sultani/ ile nani: sauti ile ulisemaka ile: tunakwenda na: na mukubwa pale:
Bwana Cheko/ tunaeleza paka mambo yako hii/ asema mu mukini sultani alikataza
kuiba/ mama hapa: aliniambiaka: mukubwa Bwana Cheko...
Bwana Cheko: asema: asema: buizi: kama muntu anakuibia: ni muzuri/
Masimango: bile bi[ntu] sultani alisema ni bibaya/
Bwana Cheko: bibaya/
Masimango: mama nayee tuko hapa/
Chief, about the speech you made. Together with Bwana Cheko, the dignitary,
we went [to the villagers] to explain your intentions, such as: In the village
the chief has forbidden to steal. The woman here told me --you go on, Bwana
Bwana Cheko: [She said] about theft that if someone steals from you this is alright.
Masimango: [And she said] the things the chief said are bad.
Bwana Cheko: Bad [she said].
Masimango: Now we are here with this mama.
[asking for direction] est-que hapa tunaweza kubisha? ou bien
munaenda kusema vile...
Masimango: wee kyako ni kilio...
Kamwanya: wee: wee tu ni kusema...
Masimango: mama leo tuko wapi?
Feza: [goes on talking, not comprehensible]
Tala Ngai: hapana kujibu wee/
[asking for directions] Can we have a dispute about this, or are you going
to go on talking?
Masimango: You, your role is to complain.
Kamwanya: You just keep talking...
Masimango: mama, where are we today?6
Feza: [goes on talking, incomprehensible]
Tala Ngai: Don't you answer back!
|[Scene continues with a new start]|
njo mambo ya sul: sultani: ya huyu mama: na huyu mutoto/
Mufwankolo: mama huyu umukutanisha mashamba anabeba na mihogo: nani: maboké yako?
Feza: baba: maboké inyewe yo hii/ minaisha ya kusema/
Manyeke: chefu/ chefu: mi nilimuomba/
Feza: ah/ ulinilomba wapi baba?
Manyeke: ku mashamba/
Feza: njo nikwende kuleta ku bachefu?
Manyeke: uko mazimu?
Feza: aaah baba/
Chief, this is the dispute between this woman and this youngster.
Mufwankolo: mama, did you actually catch him in the fields carrying away your manioc, [correcting himself] your bananas?
Feza: Baba, here are the very bananas. I have no more to say.
Manyeke: Chief. Chief, I asked her [for the bananas].
Feza: Ah, where did you ask me, baba?
Manyeke: In the fields.
Feza: This is why I bring you before the chief?
Manyeke: Are you crazy?
Feza: Come on, baba.
[restraining Manyeke] sss: tu as tort/ qu'est-ce que ça?
Feza: baba ananilandia2 huyu mutoto mwanaume huyu/
Actor: mm/ mm/
Manyeke: tatu bule tu mwizi?
Feza: alafu iba ulinilomba?
[restraining Manyeke] It's your fault. What is this?
Feza: Baba, this young man has cheated me.
Manyeke: Just three, does this make me a thief?
Others: Of course.
Feza: So you asked me for permission to steal?
ni mutoto wa nani huyu?
Masimango: wee/ sultani eko nakuuliza/
Mufwankolo: baba yako ni nani?
Manyeke: [asking for direction] ba: baba: mi: chefu: wa nani?
Manyeke: baba yee huyu/ [points to Mufwankolo, the others laugh]
Manyeke: si huyu baba: si ni baba? sasa?
Others: [laughing, partly incomprehensible] baba yake yee huyu/ baba yake ni sultani/
Guard: sema muzuri wee/
Tala Ngai: bababa ni Kafwankumba/
Masimango: [laughing] no no: ni mutoto wa sultani/
Kamwanya: ni mutoto wa sultani...
Feza: mutoto wa muloko yake wa sultani/
Masimango: ni mutoto ya sultani/
Feza: mutoto ya muloko yake ya sultani/
Masimango: eeh/ parce-que ni....
Manyeke: [trying to go back to the scene] baba ni: baba ni njala tu/
Bwana Cheko: ni mutoto wa Bwana Cheko/
Feza: ni mutoto yake/
Whose child is he?
Masimango: [to Manyeke] You, the chief is asking you.
Mufwankolo: Who is you father?
Manayeke: [asking for directions] My father, chief -- who is he?
Manyeke: He is my father [points to Mufwankolo, the others laugh at this turn]
Manyeke: Isn't he the father? What now?
Others: [laughing, partly incomprehensible] He is his father. The chief is his father.
Guard: Speak to the point, you.
Tala Ngai: The father is Kafwankumba.
Masimango: [laughing] No, no, he is the chief's child.
Kamwanya: He is the chief's child...
Feza: The child of the chief's younger brother [or sister]
Masimango: He is the chief's child.
Feza: The child of the chief's younger brother.
Masimango: Yes, because...
Manyeke: [trying to go back to the scene] baba, it is only because I was hungry.
Bwana Cheko: He is the child of Bwana Cheko.
Feza: He is his child.
|[There follows general discussion, largely incomprehensible because all talk at once; then Tala Ngai states:]|
Ngai: ne vous perdez pas/ huyu mutoto wa kwanza: huyu mutoto
wa kwanza batabamba: hana mutoto wa muntu hata moya ya ku cour/ njo
maana wee utainsister bamupunir/
Bwana Cheko: oui/
Feza: kumbe hawezi kuwa yee/
Tala Ngai: ule mutoto wa pili batabamba: njo mutoto yako/
Bwana Cheko: huyu mutoto ni Katolushi/
Tala Ngai: baba yako ni Kafwankumba/
Bwana Cheko: ni Katolushi kumbe/
Feza: eeh/ Katolushi
Kamwanya: kama banaisha kubamba Katolushi: yee....
Masimango:...ni paka imaginaire là: Kafwankumba/
Actor: bon/ bon/ njo yee lamuka Katolushi...
Tala Ngai: non: non: non/ ce n'est pas ça/ huyu njo vile wa kwanza: munabamba/ mutoto wasipo kupashwa kumuteswa huyu....
Ngai: Don't get lost. This first youngster, the first youngster they
are going to pick up is not the child of someone at the [chief's] court.
This is how you can insist that he be punished.
Bwana Cheko: Yes.
Feza: So it cannot be him.
Tala Ngai: So the second youngster they are going to arrest, he is your child.
Bwana Cheko: That youngster is going to be Katolushi.
Tala Ngai: [to Manyeke] Your father is Kafwankumba.
Bwana Cheko: [continuing the other line] So it is Katolushi.
Feza: Yes, Katolushi.
Kamwanya: As soon as they have arrested Katolushi, he...
Masimango: Kafwankumba is present only in imagination.
Actor: Alright, alright, so now Katolushi should get up....
Tala Ngai: No, no, no, that's not it. He is the first one, you pick him up without being too severe with the youngster...
|[several talk together; incomprehensible]|
wa kwanza ilikuwa ni Katolushi: huyu ni wa Manyeke...
Tala Ngai: hivi namielezea: hivi namielezea: njo vile/ huyu wa kwanza: premier notable atainsister: njo kusema...
Feza and Tala Ngai: ...bamupunir/
Tala Ngai: sasa kule bataleta mutoto yake: njo deuxième tour/ tu comprends?
Feza: si si/
Tala Ngai: njo carte itachanger sasa mu ngambo yake/
The first [case] was Katolushi, this one is Manyeke's...
Tala Ngai: I tell you how it goes. It goes like this: About this first one the first notable will be insistent...
Feza and Tala Ngai: ...that they punish him.
Tala Ngai: Now, when they bring his child, that is the second turn, you understand?
Feza: Yes, yes.
Tala Ngai: Then the cards change [so that the problem is] on his side.
na mi lakini nitafanya intervention kwa adisi basi: basipunir:
vile: vi: punition/
Tala Ngai: non non/ mi njo nitaintervenir: njo kusema usimupunir yeye/ parce que mi njo wa leta desordre mu mukini/
Mufwankolo: hapana: Bwana Cheko atasema?
Kamwanya: Bwana Cheko ata...
Feza: mu deuxième tour/
Tala Ngai: angaria/ hapa munafanya hivi/ Bwana Cheko...
Tala Ngai: ...anaisha kusema: weye unasema/ sasa wee njo ulikamata parole/
Mufwankolo: njo anatafuta kukamata parole/
Tala Ngai: hapa sasa wee utamu: kama unakamata parole: uta: utapima kuuliza: utauliza banotables: avis ya kusema tumupunir je? njo mitaintervenir mi njo ya ku: kuomba ya kusema bamuhurumie/ yee atakatala sana: anasema non non non non: ulisema kama muntu mwizi anafanya longolongo3...wooo/
Tala Ngai: njo pale tutamucondamner mutoto/
And I am going to intervene to the effect that they should not punish him...
Tala Ngai: No, no, I am going to intervene, saying don't punish him, because I am the one who brings disorder to the village.
Mufwankolo: Isn't Bwana Cheko going to speak?
Kamwanya: Bwana Cheko will speak...
Feza:..at the second turn.
Tala Ngai: Look, here is how you do it: Bwana Cheko...
Mufwankolo: ...[who] will be adamant...
Tala Ngai: ...will speak first, then you [Masimango] speak. [To Mufwankolo] Then you speak.
Mufwankolo: This is when he tries to get the floor.
Tala Ngai: When you speak your turn, you are going to try to ask the notables for their opinion how he should be punished. Then I intervene, begging that they should have mercy with him. He is going to reject this altogether: No, non, you said if a person is a thief he will condemn him.
Tala Ngai: This is when we condemn the youngster.
|[A few more remarks are exchanged]|
[continuing with the scene] bazazi yako weko paka mukini humu?
Manyeke: ba: ba: chefu: bazazi beko mbali sana: ni baba: baba balimufahamu wa zamani sana humu...eh...
[Manyeke gets stuck]
Feza: baba yake ni Kafwankumba/
[Some more direction given in the background]
Mufwankolo: baba yake ni Kafankumba/
[continuing the scene] Your parents are here in the village?
Manyeke: baba, chief, my parents are very far away. The old people here used to know my father...
[Manyeke gets stuck]
Feza: His father is Kafwankumba/
[some more direction given in the background]
Mufwankolo: His father is Kafwankumba.
eh: banotables/ Bwana Cheko/
Bwana Cheko: [clapping hands] vidyee/ vidyee/
Mufwankolo: Tala Ngai/
Tala Ngai: ndiyo/
[The women react to this as an improper way of acknowledging the chief:]
Kamwanya: [mocking] ndiyo/ ndiyo/
Mufwankolo: [to the notables] munawaza nje: mambo ya hii mambo/
Manyeke: [interrupting] chefu: ni njala tu/
Tala Ngai: lakini...
[Manyeke's response again causes laughter]
Masimango: [to Manyeke] yee [i.e. Tala Ngai] njo ya kwanza mbele/
Tala Ngai: [continuing with the scene]... minaona miye: ku mambo ya huyu mutoto/ hivi: alikwenda kuiba: na: anasema mbele yetu ya kama: ni juu ya njaa: tunaweza juu ya mara ya kwanza: kumuhurumia: sultani: nazania njo yangu akili ile/
Feza: eyo/ ni yako/
let's see. Notables! Bwana Cheko.
Bwana Cheko: [clapping hands as required by politeness] vidyee, vidyee.
Mufwankolo: Tala Ngai.
Tala Ngai: Yes.
[The women react to the "yes" as an improper way of acknowledging the chief:]
Feza: What is this?
Kamwanya: [mocking] "Yes, yes."
Mufwankolo: [to the notables] So what do think about this affair?
Manyeke: [interrupting] Chief, it's just hunger.
Tala Ngai: But...
[Manyeke's response again causes laughter]
Masimango: [to Manyeke] He [Tala Ngai] comes first.
Tala Ngai: [continuing with the scene] This is how I see the case of this youngster. He went to steal and said before us that it was because of hunger. Therefore, also because it is the first time, we can have mercy with him, chief. I guess, this is my opinion.
Feza: So, that is your [opinion].
sultani/ mu mukini: turudie ku: ku mukongo: mukini wasiyo kiwelewele: ...?...
ile haina mukini/
Masimango: mukini wasiyo mwivi: ile haina mukini/
Masimango: mukini wasiyo busharati: ile haina mukini/
Chief, in a village -- let us go back -- a village without insanity is not
Masimango: A village without a thief is no village.
Masimango: A village without adultery is no village.
|[Manyeke moves again, is called to order by the guards]|
Cheko: eh/ eh: eh: eh/ uliona wapi? fasi gani? bantu batatambuka sauti
Feza: eeh: baba/
Bwana Cheko: bantu gani batatambuka sauti ya sultani? mwizi ni nduku yake na mulozi/
Bwana Cheko: mwizi ni nduku yake na mulozi/ pale anakwenda kubiiba: byakulya bya ule: ule alilimiabyo juu ya nini? si juu ya kuponesha batoto yake ku nyumba na bwana pamoya?
Actor: na si bote/
Bwana Cheko: mwizi/ benzake: saa ya kwenda kulima: yee analala macharichari4 mu nyumba/ byakulya binaivya: anaanza kufunga njia ya kwenda kule/ ana: inapendezwa paka: anakamata masiku yake/
Feza: [clapping hands] eyoo/
Bwana Cheko: hata miaka tatu/ ku buloko/
Cheko: Stop it, stop it. Where did you see this? Where is the place
where the people go above the chief's word?
Feza: That's it, baba.
Bwana Cheko: What kind of people are going to go above the chief's word? The thief is the sorcerer's brother.
Actor: [telling her off] mama!
Bwana Cheko: The thief is the sorcerer's brother. When he went to steal those things to eat, what did she grow [that food] for? Was it not to do something for her children at home, as well as for her husband?
Actor: That's what we all do.
Bwana Cheko: The thief -- when it is time for his fellow villager to go and work the fields he just sleeps in his house, flat on his back. When the food plants get ripe then he is on his way there. He picks his days.
Feza: [clapping hands] Yes indeed.
Bwana Cheko: Three years prison!
Tala Ngai: vidyee/
Mufwankolo: Bwana Cheko/
Bwana Cheko: vidyee/
Mufwankolo: kanuni ni kanuni/
Feza: [clapping hands] eyoo/
Mufwankolo: buivi bwa namna hii: sawa hivi anaiba ni chakula: tutaipa malipishi yake/ mumupeleke: ku kisukulu ya bankambo: atapata malipishi/
Tala Ngai: Vidyee.
Mufwankolo: Bwana Cheko.
Bwana Cheko: Vidyee.
Mufwankolo: The law is the law.
Feza: [clapping hands] Yes indeed.
Mufwankolo: Theft of this sort -- since what he stole was food --we will set his fine accordingly. Bring him to the termite hill of the ancestors, there he will get his fine.8
|[Manyeke starts clowning again, the others laugh; he is removed]|
mama/ ni kweli mama tunasikia/ sawa vile tunasema: mwivi wa kuiba: tunakatala
kabisa/ ni hivi tunamupa malipishi kule ku bankambo: ni sababu ni chakula/
ingekuwa makuta: ingekuwa viti ya mu nyumba: ingekuwa bintu gani: byote:
lakini njo kule kunaanziaka na byote bile/ yee mwenyewe anakwenda kupata
malipishi ku bankambo: nawaza kama: atabadirisha mioyo yake/
Feza: [clapping hands] wafwako/
Mufwankolo: mama/ kamata bintu yako ende mama: hapana kusikitika tena hapana: eh mama?
Feza: wafwako/ wafwako/
Mufwankolo: aksanti sana mama/
Feza: wafwako sultani: wafwako/
Mama. Truly, mama, we understand. As we said, we are strictly
against the thief who steals. So we gave him his fine there at the ancestors'
place, because it was food. Had it been money, had it been some chairs [stolen]
from a house, or what not, anything else -- but it is there [with food]
that everything always starts. He himself goes to get his fine at the ancestor's
place and I believe he will change his heart.
Feza: [clapping hands] Thank you.
Mufwankolo: Mama, pick up your things and go and don't be upset any longer. Right, mama?
Feza: Thank you, thank you.
Mufwankolo: Many thanks, mama.
Feza: Thank you, chief, thank you.
Cheko: sultani/ mama huyu: juu ya mambo: alikatalayo kabisa sauti leo
unakuwa nasema/ huyu mama: Masimango yee huyu/ ziaka mbali5/
Bwana Cheko: yee alisema buizi ni kintu kimoya kizuri/ lakini leo juu ya maboké: analia/ utaangaria: juu ya maboké analia/ Masimango/
Masimango: yee: si yee anakuwa anakatala asema oh: nani: sultani aliitikia mambo ya buivi/ sasa juu ya nini alileta huyu mutoto huyu: asema ananiiba bintu mu mashamba?
Cheko: Chief, but this woman is the one who was all against what you
said today. This woman -- Masimango, isn't that her? All joking aside.
Masimango: She refused to accept [your orders].
Bwana Cheko: She said there is nothing wrong at all with theft. But today she cries about some bananas. You will see, because of the bananas she complains. Masimango [you tell him].
Masimango: Wasn't she the one who opposed [you] saying the chief has nothing against theft? Now, why did she bring this youngster telling [us] he stole from her fields?
This is followed by a short discussion
among the actors who play the notables.
In the final performance the plaintiff is not played by Feza. Manyeke is dragged by the guards onto the scene, followed by his accuser and other villagers. Everybody laughs; one of the real villagers calls out mwizi ya kwelikweli, a real thief, to show his appreciation for the acting. Otherwise the scene is pared down to the bare essentials; both accusation and interrogation are very brief. General noise and merriment make most of the recording incomprehensible. Here is a fragment of the chief's summing-up and decision.
The Case of the Thief: The Chief's Verdict. Final Version.
minasema kila siku/ mi siwezi kurudia ku mukongo hata kiloko/ unaenda mashamba
ya benyewe/ au lieu: pahali pa kwenda ku: kuomba mama: unamuomba:
anamupatia chakula unakulya/ mais wee unakwenda kuiba/ anafanya nguvu
yake yote: yee hapana kukulimia wee hapana/ analimia bantu wote? wa mwema
anakwenda kuuzako/ bintu gani sawa hivi?
Mufwankolo: bon/ angarie/ allez/ minakuhurumia kabisa pale/
Manyeke: mais: mais/
Mufwankolo: mara ya kwanza: lakini kama unarudisha mara ingine: utaukumiwa9/ unasikia muzuri? bon/ mukamupeleke kwanza mpembeni kwenda ukalipe mu kale kanyumba ya malipishi kule/
Bwana Cheko: anapashwa paka kutengeneshwa huku/
This is what I have always been saying. There is no way I can go back on
it. You go to fields that belong to someone else, instead of asking the
woman -- you ask her, she gives you food, you eat. But you go and steal.
She worked very hard but she did not work the fields for you. Did she cultivate
for everyone? Someone with good intentions would go [to her] and buy [from
Mufwankolo: Alright. Look here, I am going to be very mild with you.
Manyeke: But, but...
Mufwankolo: It was the first time. But if you do it once again I am going to punish you. Alright, now bring him away; he should pay his fine at the [ancestors'] shrine over there.10
Bwana Cheko: He must be taken care of here [?and now].
|[Manyeke is dragged away]|
In the final performance the scene ends with a walk-on appearance by the woman who owns the house and yard that serve as the setting for the chief's court. She gathers the evidence (bananas and some sweet potatoes) in a basket which she carries away on her head. The notables keep discussing the case.
Maboké (stress -- or high tone? -- on the last syllable; singular liboké)
is the term for large bananas used for cooking (plantains). The general term
for all sorts of bananas is ndizi. Of the sweeter varieties that are
eaten uncooked the larger ones are called ndizi (now in contrast with
liboké), the smaller ones kitika (plural bitika).
2 The verb is kurandia in ECS (to get something by slyness). Synonyms more frequently used in Shaba/Katanga Swahili are kulongofea or kudanganya.
3 This appears to be a variation on the lungulungu - kelulele formula used so far. But the pronounciation is different as is the response to the call. This suggests a different interpretation. In colonial times the prison in Elisabethville used to be called mwalongolongo, i.e. the place of Longolongo, the latter being the [nick]name of a European director. So the translation might be: "He/she goes to prison."
4 This is the Shaba/Katanga Swahili, with reduplication for emphasis, form of ECS chali, "on the back, prone".
5 An expression current in Shaba/Katanga Swahili. The verbform zi-ak-a, from kuzi-a plus the affix -ak-, marking continuation or repetition, could be related to ECS mzaha, or masihara, "joke".
6 Meaning: Just remember what your role is.
7 This sounds like a proverb. Crazy and stupid people are to be found everywhere; no wonder that there is trouble in every village. There is a corresponding proverb, asserting, as is often the case, the contrary: Mu mugini hamukosake muzee, literally: In a village you won't be without an old person. Meaning: Wisdom and sound advice to counteract kiwelewele are to be found in every village.
8 This takes up something Mufwankolo proposed in his version of plot. Often the shrines where one "speaks with ancestors" are placed next to a termite hill.
9 Shaba/Katanga Swahili form of ECS kuhukumu, "to give an official pronouncement, pass sentence".
10 In the text it says "at the little house;" some shrines look like miniature huts.
[Scene 1 -The law of the land]
[Scene 2 - Trouble brewing]
[Scene 4 - The hunter's visit]
[Scene 5 - The case of adultery]
[Scene 6 - Revolt in the fields]
[Scene 7 - The chief takes control - Order reestablished]
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