The Runawy Chook - and other snippets

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Two short chook snippets, a bat and a traditional story.

Submitted: September 25, 2016

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Submitted: September 25, 2016



The Muriet community had recognised the need for a local nursery school because new government rules meant that all new school entrants required some pre-school education. We were working in the village where the environmental group led by Gideon were mainly mothers and they asked if we could provide some assistance with towards the building of a single-roomed school. We managed to source funds back home.

The day we took the four rolls of polythene pipe and fittings for the water project I had promised the village and school. Gideon, was not there, but his mother insisted we take tea with her - all older women are referred to as 'Bibi'.

As we left, Bibi gave Mags a hen a special gift in recognition of what we were doing in the village. Mags was afraid to hold it because she knew they are inclined to poo on you, so I carried it back to the Maruti where I tied its legs to disable it for the trip home.

Time was against me because this was at the time we were changing our assignments and residence from Sanawari to Makumira. I knew I would not have time to prepare the chook for cooking – chinja is the word, meaning slaughter and dressing. Talk about language! Dressing a chook means in English means undressing it! Anyway, I told Mama Baraka the story and gave the chook to her, asking to prepare it for her family, and maybe give us a little taste, so I could tell Bibi in truth that her chicken was tamu sana - very tasty!

Mama Baraka arrived that evening with a small dish with some chicken and vegetables and sat chatting and to watch us eat, happy too when I brought out a beer. Suddenly she burst out laughing and blushed in the way Tanzanians do.

'Oh I wasn't going to tell you,' she could hardly speak, 'but it is so funny!’ Another pause for breath. ‘The chicken escaped and together with Olotu and Nai, I looked everywhere around the village for it! After one and a half hours, searching we found it scratching in the grass just outside, so we tied its legs together while Olotu sharpened a knife. Well when he went to slaughter it, he found one of his dogs had killed and eaten most of it!
So I had him kill one of my young pullets and it is the one you are eating!'


We had travelled to Lushoto, to the National Tree Seed project were I purchased that I was otherwise unable to source, but for a change, we decided to stay a few nights at Soni Falls, which is about 20km short of Lushoto. We had arrived just after lunch time and while booking in, we asked the young guys if there was any chance we could have lunch there.

At that time we were their only customers, so they were not about to turn down any chance of making some money, and they did really enjoy providing a service. They gave us a choice of beef or chicken and we all happened to choose chicken.

As we sat taking a beer before lunch, we heard the familiar squawk of a chicken being caught and slaughtered! We therefore knew lunch would be a long way off, because we knew they cooked over the traditional three stone fire. So we called the young man and told him that we would have the chicken for our evening meal! We asked him in the meantime if he could supply 'bites' to keep us going until then. In no time he returned with samosa and half cake!  No doubt they sent someone running to the village to buy them for us.

We enjoyed the chook later that evening.


Soni Falls is a great place to stay, some may say the accommodation was basic, but I like basic and I have a few tales about the place but here is something about bats.

The only indigenous mammal in NZ is a small bat, but it is seldom seen! In Tanzania on the other hand there are many different bat species and I enjoyed watching them whenever I had the opportunity.

In the dining room at Soni Falls Hotel, there was a small hole, no bigger than two inches in diameter, in a fanlight window. As we ate, a small bat flew through that hole and circled the light above us to catch moths, when it caught one, it flew out, returning later to catch another, that is presuming it was the same one! I found it fascinating when you consider the fly by sonar.

By the way, the falls are a short walk from the hotel and well worth a look. If you ever get the opportunity…


A Traditional Story:

The hen was amazed when the dog chased off the cat! The hen, you see had ambition and wanted to be with the most powerful in the world!

She asked if she could walk along with the dog! And he agreed.

As they walked through the savannah, a hyena attacked the dog, killed it and ate it.

The hen told the hyena that he must be the most powerful in the world and asked if she could walk with him. The hyena agreed – he enjoyed being told he was the most powerful.

As they walked through the Acacia trees, a lion attacked and killed the hyena, but distainly refused to eat him.

The hen was nevertheless impressed how powerful the lion was and told him so. She asked if she could walk with him. He told her he couldn’t care less, but if she wanted – ok.

The hungry lion attacked a Maasai’s calf and so in return the Maasai killed the lion. The hen decided this man must be the most powerful in the world and tagged along with him.

On his way home, the Maasai bought some pombe (booze) and became very drunk.

At home when the Maasai’s wife saw that he was drunk, she beat him with a stick and wouldn’t allow him inside.

And that is why inside every Maasai house you will always see a hen!

*Hens are the ‘vacuum cleaners’ in Maasai houses.


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