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The Chief’s new trousers

The Chief’s new trousers


Standing in a very long queue at the Botswana Power Corporation the other day we were entertained by an elderly storyteller in a leather stetson hat. He started the discussion by commenting on the flood water levels and noted that, back in the day, people had three homes - one in the village, one at their cattle post and one near their crops.

A flood like this one would, therefore, have made things difficult since there were no tar roads and bridges. He noted that the people then wore traditional loincloths and capes made of skins. When the first white men arrived, he said, the chief in this area was given a pair of trousers as a gift.

The chief had no idea how to use the trousers so he told the young boys who were herding cattle to keep watch at the white man’s camp and see how the trousers were put on. It must have been winter because the boys reported that the white man drew the trousers in under the blankets and moved his legs back and forth until he emerged dressed in the trousers.

The chief then told the boys to return to the white man’s camp and watch how he took them off. Again, the boys said, he got into bed, moved his legs back and forth and tossed the trousers out from under the blankets.

The chief was determined to wear the trousers so he apparently made two boys hold them open, then he ran and jumped into the opening. The chief did the rounds of the village wearing the trousers, but once he was out if sight of the village he pulled the trousers off and put his loincloth on again.

By the time our storyteller was finished we all wished the queue was longer. I wish I had a tape recorder.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 07, Dec 2011)