The Orange Fairy Book HTML version
The Story of the Hero Makoma
Once upon a time, at the town of Senna on the banks of the Zambesi, was born a
child. He was not like other children, for he was very tall and strong; over his
shoulder he carried a big sack, and in his hand an iron hammer. He could also
speak like a grown man, but usually he was very silent.
One day his mother said to him: 'My child, by what name shall we know you?'
And he answered: 'Call all the head men of Senna here to the river's bank.' And
his mother called the head men of the town, and when they had come he led
them down to a deep black pool in the river where all the fierce crocodiles lived.
'O great men!' he said, while they all listened, 'which of you will leap into the pool
and overcome the crocodiles?' But no one would come forward. So he turned
and sprang into the water and disappeared.
The people held their breath, for they thought: 'Surely the boy is bewitched and
throws away his life, for the crocodiles will eat him!' Then suddenly the ground
trembled, and the pool, heaving and swirling, became red with blood, and
presently the boy rising to the surface swam on shore.
But he was no longer just a boy! He was stronger than any man and very tall and
handsome, so that the people shouted with gladness when they saw him.
'Now, O my people!' he cried, waving his hand, 'you know my name--I am
Makoma, "the Greater"; for have I not slain the crocodiles into the pool where
none would venture?'
Then he said to his mother: 'Rest gently, my mother, for I go to make a home for
myself and become a hero.' Then, entering his hut he took Nu-endo, his iron
hammer, and throwing the sack over his shoulder, he went away.
Makoma crossed the Zambesi, and for many moons he wandered towards the
north and west until he came to a very hilly country where, one day, he met a
huge giant making mountains.
'Greeting,' shouted Makoma, 'you are you?'
'I am Chi-eswa-mapiri, who makes the mountains,' answered the giant; 'and who
'I am Makoma, which signifies "greater,"' answered he.
'Greater than who?' asked the giant.
'Greater than you!' answered Makoma.