Africa Leaders Magazine


Mahe in the tale of nyamgondoho

Mahe’s story is a common narrative in many societies. When individuals who have faced humble beginnings and hardships suddenly find themselves in a more fortunate position, it can indeed be a transformative experience. However, this transformation can take various forms,  positive and negative.

Mahe was a very  a poor fisherman scraping a living on Nam Lolwe (what many now call L. Victoria), moved to the town of Gwasi to see if his fortunes would improve but for many days, his fortune did not get any better. Sometimes he spent two consecutive days without catching anything which implies that  those days were spent in hunger.

The beautiful lake Victoria, Image Credit ( Getty)

One faithful day , just when things seemed particularly horrible, his fortunes changed, though he did not immediately know it. A full morning spent and there wasn’t a single catch to take to the market, Mahe consoled himself that tomorrow could present even  better opportunities. And just as he was about to pull in his net and head for the shore, he felt something caught in the net. Thankful for what could possibly be a very large catch, Mahe dug in and pulled the net with all his might.

He had the  disappointment of his life when instead of a huge haul, he found himself staring at a woman (some versions say an old woman). He helped her to the beach, where she wanted to leave it being that he was too ashamed to invite him to his place because he is just a poor fisherman.

But the lady convinced him, promising to be his wife and making him very rich; her only requirement was that he should never reveal where he had found her.

From that day, everything became bountiful; his catches were huge and whenever she tilled the land the harvests were astounding. Steadily their homestead acquired livestock, and was soon stocked with goats, chickens and cows.

Mahe could now afford some luxurious lifestyle, and he married more wives. He stopped fishing all together, opting instead to spend his days drinking. He  arrived home late due to longer drinking hours , and it was not long before the man who previously  had nothing started beating up and insulting his wives. Tired of ill treatment, the wives decided to teach him a lesson by forcing him to sleep outside.

So one day, when he was more drunk than usual, he found himself knocking on all his wives’ door without anyone opening up the door.

Frustrated, he found himself uttering:

“This is me Mahe, the richest man in Gwasi, having to sleep outside because all my wives will not open for me. Not even the one whom I fished out of Nam Lolwe!”

That caught the attention of Nyamgondho, who could not believe that he had revealed her origin. She asked him what he had said, to which he responded:

Listen to her. I hooked her out of the water like a fish. I gave her a home, and now she is so big headed she will not open for me.

The  pact violated, she headed off to the lake. Mahe, ever unrepentant, thought this was good riddance, but a nasty surprise awaited him.

As she headed off, every living thing in the Mahe’s homestead followed her; chickens, goats, sheep, cattle, wives and children all trailed behind her. Mahe watched in disbelief as all his wealth was swallowed up by Nam Lolwe. He called her but she would not hear him. At this point, he realized that he had been reduced to the poor miserable fisherman that he once was, and he wept.

When his tears reached the ground, his feet were turned into roots, and he slowly transformed into a tree with many branches, standing guard just outside his desolate homestead.

This story  is one that carries very significant  moral lessons about the consequences of arrogance, greed, and mistreatment of others, with Mahe’s transformation serving as a form of punishment for his behavior.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top