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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
An Ethiopian Story Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Mbũrũ, Kenya Jul 28, 2006
Peace & Conflict , Human Rights   Short Stories
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There was once a king called King Firdy, the Just. He called himself the Just because he was proud of his fairness in all judgements. When he seized the throne, King Firdy decreed that anybody who spoke against him would be roasted over a slow fire. His judgements were thus never questioned and nobody ever heard a single word against him. So all the people in the old kingdom just got on with their own private business and did not just sit around discussing the justice of the King. The King’s word was all the law they had.

This went on for a long time until one night when things went wrong.
Asrat, a well-known thief, was breaking into a warehouse of a well-known and wealthy merchant when a stone fell on him with a thud.

When he woke up it was morning. His head a large bump and the whole night’s work had come to nothing. He was very angry indeed.

“There is no justice in this,” he said. “Somebody must pay for this. I’ll complain to the King”

He went straight to the King and lowered himself low that his forehead touched the ground.

“O wise and just King,” he cried, I have been sorely treated in pursuit of my gainful employment. I seek your justice”.

As usual there was a courtier to whisper in the King’s ear. “He is a poor thief, your majesty,” whispered the courtier, “and well known for it”

“Continue,” said the King to Asrat.

Asrat explained that he was only digging a hole in the warehouse wall to better himself a little, "When this great stone fell on my head. Look sire,” he continued, “Surely somebody should pay for this.”

King Firdy looked at the bump, and he too was disturbed. “What is this place coming to, when a humble thief can’t go about his business without such risks? Eh?” he asked. “Bring the house owner before me,” ordered the King.

The well-known and wealthy merchant Paulos was brought in before the King and trying to recall what he had not shared.

“Paulos!” shouted the King, “this good thief was injured trying to break into your warehouse. On the face of it,” continued King Firdy, “in my judgement, you are responsible for this.”

The merchant Paulos was a quick thinker, which is why he was wealthy.
“O wise and just majesty,” cried Paulos, “it is true there is a hole in my warehouse wall. But sire, I did not build it. The contractor built it,” he continued, “and any fault in the construction must be levelled at him – in all justice, sire!”

“Of course,” said the King, “er… nothing personal Paulos, we just want to see that the guilty are punished for this unspeakable act. Bring in the contractor,” shouted the King.

In awe and dread, the contractor came. He had done business with the King before… to his cost.

“You miserable creature,” shouted the King to the contractor, “the good thief Asrat was injured by your careless work. We know very well how badly you build walls. You have been at it again, eh?”

“Your majesty,” answered the contractor, “I throw myself on your mercy. It is true that I had the contract to build Paulo’s warehouse”.

“So?” roared the King.

“So…so…the actual construction was done by the stone mason. If anyone is to be punished, it should be Feleke, the stone mason. He is the guilty one, oh your majesty.”

“Bring me this stone-mason,” roared the King to his guards, “we will not leave any stone mason unturned to see that justice is done!”

Feleke, the stone-mason was brought before the King, and accused of causing injury to the loyal thief.

“I’m not the one your majesty,” cried Feleke, "how did the stone fall if the cement was good? It was bad cement”

“What?!” an astounded King cried, “he is a very plausible rogue. We reverse our order.”

“O merciful King” a humbled Feleke said, “isn’t it cement that binds the stone together? It must have been badly mixed…Kebede Gabre is the cement mixer. He should be the one to be punished.”

“We can see justice in that,” said the King, “the cement mixer shall answer. Find the bad cement mixer,” he ordered. Kebede was dragged to the palace by many guards for he was very strong – he was not very smart. He could not think of anything to say when he was accused of causing injury to the good thief Asrat.

“Hah! Silence? We have found the guilty man at last, said the King. “Build the gallows and hang him”.

Since such justice has to seen to be believed, deals were quickly done and the gallows built in the courtyard. Somehow there was not enough timber to build the gallows high enough to let Kebede Gabre actually swing. The King was angry for he wanted to see justice dome, and isn’t justice delayed, justice denied?

“Idiots,” he shouted to his guards, “well, don’t just stand there. Find somebody to fit the gallows.

The guards rushed out of the palace to find the one to be punished.
They found him, in the market. He was a small farmer who had come to sell onions. They took him to the king.

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Writer Profile

I am a researcher on educational issues especially in the rural areas, with much emphasis on girls' education.

As a trained journalist, I have a lot of concern with the handling of the education sub-sector in Kenya and take a critical role in viewing the reforms currently being conducted to integrate education structures for the sake of the youth in Kenya.

One major aspect, sadly, is that Kenya has been sovereign for over four decades but has been the only African country besides Somalia not to have made education compulsory, free and basic. For Somalia it can be understood - the country had been in civil strife since 1992- but for Kenya the politics of the day have played a negative role in reducing the promotion of education to a system sheer competition, instead of progressive

Apart from that, I write fictitious literature.
Currently I am working on prose on love and betrayal and a collection of poems.
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