The Folk Tale Of Human Bones

Our Bones Par Our Land
Credits: Our bones par our land, Decolonial storytelling for children as a public intervention by Veronique B Mensah during the second Namibian Land Conference, – photo by Neige Ice cream

Human Bones

Human bones is a Nama Folktale that takes place in the village of Okombahe where a young mother Lena, lives with her children. Lena was a sheep herder and a domestic worker.

One day while herding the sheep Lena made a discovery of a big pile of bones, in Namibia many people would collect dried up animal bones and sell it for extra income ( similar to what we do today with recycling). Lena rushed home and grabbed a bag, ran back to the place where she found the bones, quickly threw them into the bag and went into the village where she sold it to the German shop owner for Three Shillings. After selling the bones to the German shop owner she went to the front section of his shop and bought; Maize meal, sugar and tea in the Shop.

That evening she prepared a big pot of porridge and a cup of sweet tea for all her children and soon after dinner the family went to sleep and Lena began to dream.  In her dream she heard a Nama man saying; is this the time that a man sell the bones of another man Lena? At first she thought it was someone outside talking to her but there was nobody outside her home. But every time she would fall asleep the voice would Ask:” Lena is this the Time for a Man to Sell the Bones of Another Man”. Lena was troubled and could not sleep further, she remember a story her father told her about a Nama battle that took place in the mountains of Okomahe close to where she found the bones. She realized that those are not animal bones but indeed human bones.

Early the next morning she borrowed 3 shillings from her neighbor and ran into the village waiting for the German shop owner, she asked for a paper and pencil from the shop manager to leave the owner a note but then he finally arrived. Lena then asked for the bones she sold to him yesterday back. The German shop owner refused to give back the bones, she asked him: if this is the time that a man buys the bones of anther man. He dismissed her, still desperate to get the bones back she walked around the shop, saw a big window and through it she saw a huge heap of bones and on the top of the heap she saw the bag of bones she sold to the German Shop owner yesterday.

She found a chair, got on it slowly opened the window reached in and grabbed the bag of bones, she quickly wrote a note and folded the 3 shillings inside it and left it on the spot where she took the bones. She closed the window, jumped off the chair and ran back into the mountains to the spot where she found the bones. She dug a grave and placed all the bones inside it and said a prayer.

And that evening Lena has a peaceful and blessed nights rest.

The END.

Story telling of the folktale Human Bones by Veronique B Mensah during Stimela Sendaba