The Rainmaker


There was a great rainmaker, renowned throughout the land. She was tall and beautiful; she had eyes that shone like the early morning star and a mouth that frequently broke into a beatific smile. She hadn’t just brought smiles to many lands; infact, many times she had saved her vast country from famine and certain disaster.

Soon, people from other lands heard about her exploits and called for her. So she spent her summer months going from village to village, going up mountains and descending valleys, bringing rain and laughter.

But, one day while coming from a far away land, she was struck by a strange illness. She couldn’t walk to distant places, as a result. As her calling involved a lot of travel, she decided to retire. But when the rainmaking ceremonies were in her village or somewhere nearby, she occasionally helped her two grandsons, who had jointly succeeded her.

But her grandsons were no match. The grandsons’ rainmaking ceremonies were chaotic; sometimes it seemed like they were trying to outdo each other. Often at the end of these ceremonies, the land was flooded. Plants choked, diarrhoea stalked the land while at night mosquitoes bit people until their skins were red and bumpy like the skin of guinea fowls.

One day the rainmaker fell ill. Her descendants sought a powerful medicine man from a village nearby. The sangoma came, saw and promptly told them he couldn’t heal her. Her condition was incurable. He recommended a renowned medicine, man from beyond the where the sun sets, from the people who spoke a strange tounge. This man’s medicine was very potent. It is said he had brought back to life some people who had died. So, hearts beating with hope, they sent for him. He arrived after two days. Like the medicine man who had come before him, he told them he could keep the rainmaker alive but couldn’t heal her so that she could be well again.

Her children and thousands of her descendants, afraid of a life without her, about the chaos they thought would break out when the rainmaker departed to be with her ancestors, begged the sangoma, “please keep her alive”.

“What if she wants to join her ancestors,” he asked. “What if the ancestors want to be with her?” As if in a chorus, they sang, “No, we still want her”.

So it was she hung in the void, neither alive nor dead…

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