The Tale of King Kabila

By Audrey Muginga
Audrey Muginga's stories

King Kabila was the second king of the village of Moya. He was a tender, gentle, bighearted king, especially loved for his wisdom and fair judgment. He was very rich and renowned for living in harmony with his people. Despite his wealth and standing, the king was unhappy, because all three of his wives had been unable to give him an heir. They had only given birth to daughters, and this was cause for concern. He wondered who would succeed him after his death. So he decided to look for a fourth wife who might finally give him a male heir. To this end, he organized a feast for girls aged eighteen to thirty, and all of the girls in the village were invited to attend.

The day of the feast arrived, and it was a grand occasion. There was plenty of food and drink, and much else besides. The drummer performed, as did various singers and dancers. All of the girls in the village were made up and dressed up for the feast.

Amanda was an intelligent nineteen-year-old girl with a tall, beautiful figure. No one could resist turning to look at her when she passed through the village. Everyone admired her beauty. She was an only child. Her father was a farmer and her mother a seamstress; they had raised their daughter together and given her everything she needed. Like the other girls in the village, she went to the feast organized by the king. She was dressed in a blue dress with black sandals and a black scarf around her head.

During the feast, King Kabila addressed the young girls of his village from the stage: “Hello, my ladies. I think you know the reason why I have called you here. I have three wives and eighteen daughters, and I am looking to marry a fourth wife who will finally give me an heir who will succeed me after my death.”

After his speech, the girls applauded, and as the king came down from the stage, he saw Amanda and was pleased by her beauty. Without hesitating, the king took back the microphone and called out to her, “Dear miss, could you approach?”

The girls clamored for his attention. “Me, my king?” “Is it me?” “Should I come?”

The King said, “I’m looking for the girl dressed in blue with a black scarf.”

Amanda approached, and the king took her hand and asked, “What is your name?” She told him her name. The king said, “You are my choice. You shall bring me to your parents this evening so that I can take you as my fourth wife.” As planned, after the feast, Amanda brought the king to her parents. He paid the bride price and took her as his fourth wife.

When Amanda arrived at the royal palace, the three other wives welcomed her. But they were not overly happy, because they were afraid that she would give birth to a boy, who, as the king’s heir, would be given more love and attention than the other children. Amanda lived in the same complex as the other wives, but in her own house. Since the royal palace was very big, the wives each had their own house. And the king had to go to each of his wives to see them. Amanda, who was the youngest of the wives, considered her co-wives her big sisters. They woke up early in the morning to cook her breakfast, helped her around the house, and sometimes even spent the whole day with her.

The king started spending a lot of time with Amanda, whom he liked very much because of her beauty and intelligence. A few months later Amanda became pregnant. Her co-wives were very anxious. Afraid that she was pregnant with an heir, they started making plans in secret to kill the baby if it was a boy.

One evening, Amanda felt contractions. The king took her to the village hospital so that she could give birth. After a while, the doctor came out and said, “Congratulations, my king. It’s a baby boy.” Unable to control himself, he jumped up and shouted with joy, “Oh my God! Thank you for having answered my prayers. Finally, I have an heir.” The king told the messenger to spread the good news, and the messenger went from house to house that night to announce the birth of the new prince.

The next morning, the king’s three other wives met to talk. The first wife said that they had to kill the baby, because Amanda and her son were going to inherit the kingdom after the king’s death, and then they would all be banished. The second wife said that the best course of action would be to poison Amanda and then kill the baby, to avoid suspicion; if only the baby died, people would naturally suspect them. The third wife disagreed, arguing that killing just the baby was better than killing them both. After all, the boy was the problem, not Amanda. She was, despite everything, a friend.

When Amanda came home with the baby, the king organized a lavish party to celebrate the birth of his one and only heir, Kabila Junior. He had guards placed in the newborn’s house and no one was allowed to enter apart from the doctor and the king.

One year later, the king decided to organize a birthday party for his only son. When the other wives learned about this, they resolved to kill the baby and the mother, because they felt the king was too fond of his fourth wife. The birthday party was their opportunity to be in close contact with the mother and the baby, since their house was usually guarded by the king’s armed men. They decided to poison Amanda’s drink and then kill the baby, but someone else inadvertently drank the poison.

The co-wives waited for Amanda to die. The next morning, they went to check on her. Amanda was still alive! They were so furious they decided to come up with another plan on the spot, one that was foolproof. The third wife suggested they hire someone to kill the baby and his mother. The others said that was too risky, because the king might hear rumors of their plan and then he would drive them out of the village. The second wife then suggested they poison the king. The other two women yelled at her: “How can you even suggest such a thing? Do you really want the king to die?” The second wife said, “No, the poison won’t kill him, only make him fall ill. That way we can enter Amanda’s house and kill the baby.” They agreed to put a small dose of poison in the king’s food. No sooner said than done. The king ate the food and fell ill.

While the king was being given medical care, the first wife went to Amanda. She told her that the king was very ill, and that she would be taking care of her from now on. Amanda could not refuse, and the first wife started going to her house almost every day. One day, while Amanda was taking a bath, the first wife entered the house, killed the baby, and then left as if nothing had happened. After Amanda finished bathing, she went to feed the baby. She took the baby in her arms and tried to wake him, but he was motionless. She checked for a heartbeat but there was none. She screamed and called the guards. The guards asked what was wrong. She explained that she had gone to wash herself, and when she came out, she had found the baby dead. She asked the guards if anyone had entered the house. Kasongo, one of the guards, said he had seen the first wife leaving the house not too long ago, but he thought nothing of it since she was caring for Amanda and her baby. It was then that Amanda suspected the first wife of having killed her baby. She asked the guards to inform the king about the incident because she was crying and still in shock.

The guards went to inform the king. He was stunned: “What? How? My one and only heir is dead?” Then the king told the guards to call Amanda. Amanda was brought before the king, and the king asked her to explain everything. In tears, Amanda told him what had happened. She said she did not understand how the baby had died; he was a healthy boy, but as soon as she had turned her back, he had died. The guards had told her that while she was bathing, the first wife had entered the house. She told the king she suspected the first wife of having killed the baby. In his fury the king ordered Amanda to be killed. The poor girl died innocent. He also had his first wife punished; she was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The king never recovered from the death of his one and only heir. He remained unhappy all his life, haunted by what he had done to Amanda. He did not remarry, and nor did he ever have another son. He’d killed an innocent girl, when he should have taken the time to listen to her and analyze the situation. It was clear that his first wife was guilty of the boy’s murder, and she deserved a more severe punishment, but the king had already pronounced his verdict, and he was a man of his word.

30 March, 2023