Lapogo and Kila

There was once a lady who had a daughter she named Lapogo. Lapogo had a friend called Kila. In the ancient days, when a grand dame had no husband, all the children in the area were free to take shelter at her house.

So Lapogo brought Kila home and Kila slept in their house. Unknown to Lapogo, her mother turned into a hyena at night. Every night as the two girls were asleep, Lapogo’s mother would creep up to their beds in her hyena form, pinch Kila’s skin with her razor sharp claws and lick off the drops of blood.

One day Kila took Lapogo aside and said to her, “Lapogo, last night something was scratching my skin as I slept. Look here.” And she showed the welts and scars that run all over her body.

Lapogo looked at her friend and was puzzled. She said “I don’t understand, perhaps it was a rat or something that was biting you.”

“No. It isn’t like that. The creature resembles your mother. When your mother got up, I was awake. She transformed into something that looked like a hyena. She opened my scabs and licked my blood.”

One day, Kila got anxious and switched beds with Lapogo. She carried the sleeping Lapogo and tucked her into her own bed and she slept in Lapogo’s bed. She whispered this into the ear of the sleeping Lapogo and fell asleep next to Lapogo’s mother.

Now it came to pass that Lapogo’s mother’s desire for blood made her decide to eat up the little girl that night. So she rose up and clamped her solid jaws on the warm flesh of the little girl. Lapogo woke up in pain and started to shout, “Mother it’s me. Let go of me, I’m Lapogo, please let go of me,” she pleaded. “You are eating me. You are eating your daughter.” Since she had changed into a hyena, she couldn’t hear what Lapogo was saying and was wild with hunger and lusty for blood. She gobbled up the girl and spat out only her head and feet which she deemed not meaty enough. Sated, she drifted off to sleep.

When Lapogo’s mother was deep in her sleep, Kila unlatched the door, crept out and ran away as fast as her little legs could carry her.

In the morning, Lapogo’s mother woke up and looked at the empty beds, and the head of Lapogo, and realised what had happened. She started to sing.

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

A bird flew overhead and she asked it to stop and help her sing her song. The bird stooped mid air and asked, “How do you sing your song?” She was grateful that the bird had heard her and sang:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

The bird was a wood pigeon. So she instructed it, “Please sing this song all the way to Kila’s homestead and when you reach her house please tell her to come to me. I need to see her body only.” She said then added, “Come closer and sing so that I can hear how good you are.”

The bird came closer and started making pigeon sounds.

Tooo rooo
Too rooo.

“You stupid bird”, she scolded, “That is not how to sing the song. Get out of my sight you nincompoop.”

The poor bird fled and the lady sang her song:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

The Tutuu bird, sometimes called Labulang, flew over head and she called it. When the bird was within earshot she said to it, “Last night, I ate my daughter called Lapogo. So please sing my song until you reach the homestead of Kila and tell her to come to me. I simply want to see her body.” Then she asked the bird, “Should I sing you the song so that you can learn it and sing it?” The bird answered, “Yes.” So she started singing:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

“Now sing the song”, she commanded the bird, and the bird started singing:

Tu tu tu tu tu tu tu
Tu tu tu tu tu tu tu.

“You bastard, you’ve spoiled my song.” The lady said, “Get out of here.”

Just as the bird flew away, an owl stopped by and asked, “Lady, what’s the problem.”

“You see, I’ve eaten my daughter. So I’m kindly requesting you Owl to help me sing this song.”

“Lady, how do you sing the song?” Owl asked.

“This is how it is sung:”

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

Aya,” said Owl. “Let me sing it:”

Wooo wooo
Wooo wooo.

The woman was exasperated. “These silly birds can’t help me,” she said.

As the day wore on and the days turned to weeks, the woman became very sad and she lost so much weight that she became as thin as a broomstick.

Just when she was about to give up, Alobolang the parrot flew by and she asked it to stop and listen to her. She said to the parrot, “Alobolang, I’ve eaten my daughter called Lapogo. I’d like you to sing me my song and fly all the way to Kila’s house and tell that I’d like to see her.”

“Sing me the song.” The parrot requested. So the lady sang the song:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

It’s your turn to sing it now, said the lady and the parrot opened its black beak and began to sing;

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

She was very pleased and said to the parrot, “Please sing that song all the way to the house of Kila. And when you get there please tell her that I’d like to see her.”

In those days, trees were gigantic and just one tree would have a canopy so immense that it would dwarf everything else that we know of. So the lady gave directions to the parrot, “You go straight ahead. You’ll come across a giant tree to your right then fly ahead and you’ll come to another tree to your left. After that there will be a lone tree with bare branches. It stands at the entrance to the Kraal of Kila’s homestead.”

The parrot flew off singing:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

All the while, Kila was still on her way home after fleeing from Lapogo’s home. She would sneak in between big trees and scope out the wood before darting away. As she approached one of the big trees on the way to her house, she heard a song being sung overhead:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

Kila kept running and the bird kept singing, and when she was very close to her house, the parrot perched on the bare branched tree singing:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

She came out into the clearing and looked up at the bird and asked, “Bird, what is that song that you are singing?”

“I’m looking for the house of somebody called Kila. The mother of Lapogo ate Lapogo. She says that she ate Lapogo because she thought that she was Kila.”

After listening to the parrot, Kila said, “You see that bare branched tree over there? That is the house of Kila, you go there and sing your song to her.”

The bird flew off singing the song and Kila run home to her family. When she reached the compound she called everyone and narrated her tale. “You see me here, I’ve ran away from the house of Lapogo. Lapogo’s mother ate her daughter instead of me. We used to sleep in the same room and she was my best friend.”

Overhead, a parrot was singing and everybody looked up at it as it sang:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

Kila’s mother came under the tree and asked the parrot, “You bird, what is that strange song that you are singing?”

“I was sent on this errand. Lapogo’s mother has instructed me to come to Kila and tell her to go to her. She would cherish nothing more than just to see Kila.”

“Kila has just arrived, how can she set off again?”

“I shall walk with her.”

“How do you mean walk with her? You are a winged creature and cannot walk very far. Otherwise do you mean to tell me that you will carry her aloft your wings?” She paused and continued, “anyway, please come closer.”

The parrot flew down and perched on a peeled tree trunk that was a drums stand. It started to sing:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

After hearing the song, Kila’s mother who was warming herself beside some embers turned her back away from the warm glow and said to the parrot, “come closer and sing me that song.” So the bird flew down and perched on her hand and started singing:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

“So, now that you’ve sung the song to me, I’ll accept your request and permit Kila to come to the house of Lapogo.” She turned to her daughter and said to her, “Kila, please go to Lapogo’s house and see to this matter.”

“Oh no mother, I’ll not go back to that house. Never! Lapogo’s mother is going to eat me up this time round.”

“Don’t be petulant, go with this bird and sort out the matter.”

Silently, Kila protested but followed the bird anyway. She had no choice, so as the bird flew ahead, Kila followed behind. It sang all along the way:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

The two travelled for days until they reached the gate to the homestead of Lapogo’s mother. The parrot perched atop and ochoro tree and sang:

Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
Kila yee Kila yee Lapogo Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila
I’ve eaten Lapogo thinking she was Kila.

When Lapogo’s mother heard the song, she stepped out of her house and came out to meet the two. She was now gaunt and tired. The parrot said, “I bring you Kila. Here she is.”

When she saw Kila, she collapsed and died.

This story teaches us to be well informed about all our friends that we decide to live with. We should investigate their family background; how they live, what they do. For if they are witches then they might influence us to become witches too.


Retold by Oyet David Oyetumunukilebe, translated by Deyu African