Resource 4: How Mrs Masiko found her story

Background information / subject knowledge for teacher

Beatrice Masiko tried to think of a story that was not well known. She remembered an idiom that was based on a story. The idiom said: ‘There is no jackal bigger than another, all jackals are equal in size.’ She remembered that the story was about a master and his servant travelling on horseback, and that the servant told his master about a jackal that was the size of a calf or an ox. She also remembered that there were rivers to cross, and one of them was called ‘the river that drowns all liars’.

Since she was not sure of what actually happened, she asked her sister-in-law Ruth about the story. Ruth said that the servant in the story was a habitual liar. Once, he even told a story of a bug, likening it to something so big, the story could not possibly be true. They were still short of details, so they went to Mr Kagwa, who had been a teacher of Luganda, now an inspector of schools. He could not remember the story, but remembered that a version of it was in a particular reader.

One day, Beatrice was speaking to Mrs Cissy Mirembe, a maths teacher, and found that she knew the message behind the story. She said that the master used a certain technique to stop the servant from lying. He didn’t want to accuse him directly of lying. Mrs Mirembe said that the technique worked, as the servant repented and told the truth before they reached the river. But she also couldn’t remember the details of the story.

Beatrice then went to Mr Henry Kibedi, an attorney. He also knew the idiom and the message behind the story. He thought it had arisen because a community was sick and tired of the lying of a particular man. They decided to put him to a vigorous test, and teach him a lesson. Mr Kibedi’s version of the story is at Resource 5: The river that swept away liars.

Resource 5 also contains two traditional Ugandan stories – The lazy hare and the 20-eyed monster and The singing bird, which have morals to teach.

Adapted from: Umthamo 2, University of Fort Hare Distance Education Project

Resource 3: Questions about stories

Resource 5: The river that swept away liars and other stories