Thu, 30 Mar 2017 12:39:36 +0000


By Philpi Chirwa

IF one met them walking side by side in the street, one might be forgiven for thinking that the two were mother and son.

But then, 42-year-old Stylude Mujiso and 60-year-old Elita Sikopo (both not real names) of Kabwe’s sprawling Katondo Township were actually husband and wife seemingly enjoying a blissful married life!

At one time, a hawker unknowingly injured Mujiso’s pride when he arrived at the couple’s home and asked if “our grandmother” was around.

When Mujiso asked the hawker whether he was asking for his wife, the latter gave an emphatic NO. “Don’t you have an old woman living here? She’s tall and a bit plump. Where is she?” the visitor had asked innocently.

“You are talking about my wife,” Mujiso corrected him without exhibiting any sense of shame in his voice. “She has gone to church. Any message for her?”

Upon hearing this, the hawker gaped in astonishment, saying, “So she is your wife, er? I’m sorry.”

He then explained to the husband that he wanted his wife in connection with some plastic plates she had bought from him on credit a week earlier.

“Anyway, when she comes, tell her that Bwana Mulenga was here. She knows me very well. I will check on her again tomorrow morning.” He then jumped on his bicycle and rode off.

I stumbled upon this rather strange marriage sometime back when I went to visit an uncle of mine living in Katondo Township.

This was my first time to visit this part of Kabwe located to the south of Kwame Nkrumah Teacher Training College (now renamed Kwame Nkrumah University).

On the evening of my arrival my uncle, Mr Felix Nyasulu, a former soldier, told me that as a nosey journalist, I had come to the right place.

“Katondo is full of stories which sound incredible but yet true. For example, there is a story concerning this very house where we are now but I won’t tell you what it is all about until your date of departure,” he said.

“Why?” I protested, anxious to get the story right away.

“You will know later,” he insisted.

The following morning, uncle woke me up and asked me to look at the man who was doing some gardening outside a house just across the street.

When I did so by peeping out through my bedroom window, uncle said, “That man is my landlord. I will show you his wife later.”

“What about them?” I was still inquisitive.

“Wait until you see the wife, then I will answer your question,” uncle replied, putting me in more suspense.

I estimated the man’s age to be in his late 30’s or early 40’s. Later, an old woman came out of the house across the street and again my uncle asked me to look at her through the window, which I did.

He then said, “Now you have seen both my landlord and the old woman. If there was any relationship between the two, what sort of relationship do you think it would be?”

I thought for a moment and then said, “Well, aren’t they mother and son?”

“What?” uncle laughed “Well, that’s what I thought too until I discovered the truth. Believe it or not, the young man you are seeing is the old woman’s husband.”

“That can’t be true, uncle,” I said. “There’s no way that good-looking young man can be a husband to such an old woman.”

“But it has happened here,” uncle said. “Didn’t I tell you from the very beginning that you have come to a place full of incredible but true stories?”

But he insisted he would not disclose the origin of the strange marriage until on my day of departure for Lusaka. And when that day arrived, uncle asked me whether I was aware that I had been sleeping in a formerly haunted house.

“What?” I exclaimed. “You mean this house was haunted? Who was haunting it?”

“Well, every night, a weeping young woman would appear before my landlord’s wife demanding to know why she had done such a cruel thing to her. As you can guess, the woman was a ghost. She had been dead for some time.”

“What had the young woman to do with the landlord’s wife?” I was anxious to know.

UNCLE: “The two were mother and daughter.”

CHIRWA: “What are you telling me, uncle? Are you saying that it is the daughter who came to haunt her mother?”

UNCLE: “Exactly.”

CHIRWA: “Why?”

UNCLE: “It’s a long, long story, my nephew, and a very sad one indeed.”

According to uncle, the old woman, later identified as Elita Sikopo, aged 60, happened to be a kaloba-lender (shylock). She was a widow and most of her children were married, except the last two, Lucia, 25, a fishmonger, and Belita, 21, unemployed.

The old woman had a married son, Bungwe, who was a close friend of Stylude Mujiso.

Meanwhile, Mujiso was one of the old woman’s most valued customers who rarely defaulted on his debts. For this reason, Elita liked him very much.

In due course, Mujiso, a divorcee with three children, fell in love with one of the old woman’s daughters, Lucia. Both his friend, Bungwe, and the kaloba lender approved of the marriage and arrangements were accordingly made for the two sweethearts to join in matrimony.

Indeed preparations had reached such an advanced stage that Lucia even began doing the laundry for her husband-to-be as well as sweeping his house (the one my uncle was renting then). It was now obvious that many people were now anxiously looking forward to the wedding day.

Then things started happening. Shortly before the wedding, Lucia went to Lukanga Swamps to order fish. Little did she realise that a big shock was awaiting her; for she returned home to discover that her aged mother had married her sweetheart, Mujiso!

According to my uncle’s neighbours who claimed to have witnessed everything from “ start to finish”, Lucia was so shocked by the discovery she just broke down and wept uncontrollably, asking the mother  why she had done such a cruel thing to her own daughter.

It was said that while her daughter was away at Lukanga, her mother met her son-in-law- to-be and persuaded him to marry her instead of her daughter, saying, “If you marry me, you will have a lot of money from my kaloba business. There’s nothing Lucia can give you since she is very poor.”

There and then, so the story went, the two got married under these controversial circumstances. Meanwhile, Lucia got so depressed by the incident, she died not long afterwards.

A few days after her burial, her aged mother could not sleep at night. Lucia would appear before her, tears dripping down her cheeks, demanding to know why she married her husband-to-be and what she hoped to achieve by double-crossing her own daughter.

The visitations from the dead daughter reportedly became so frequent that Mujiso and his wife were left with no alternative but to leave their haunted home and build another one just across the street where they were living at the time.

It was then that uncle took occupation of the house as a tenant. Nobody told him about the Mujiso/Lucia tragedy until some months later.

Initially, he was just wondering why his young-looking landlord had got married to a woman old enough to be his mother…..

The author is a Lusaka-based media consultant who also worked in the Foreign Service as a diplomat in South Africa and Botswana. For comments, sms 0977425827/0967146485 or email:


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