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Namwamba and the Magic Pots. Original Myth

Namwamba, a local peasant farmer with two wives and six children, was famous in the village for telling stories and fairy tales that often left listeners with more questions than answers. He was also known for his cunning ways as he often found excuses to abscond communal work like farming and harvesting. The village chief Kwabena had reprimanded him on more than one occasion, and he had even threatened to banish Namwamba from the community. Luckily for Namwamba, his father was a member of the council of elders, and his uncle, the village’s ‘whisperer,’ thereby spoke on his behalf, and the chief heeded to their pleas.

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Kojo village was known for its local meetings known as barazas. During the barazas, the representative members of every clan would gather and discuss various issues affecting the community, like upcoming ceremonies and tasks, and was presided by chief Kwabena. The village’s whisperer would attend the barazas and communicate any messages the gods had for the villagers. The meetings ended with eating festivity, and one family was chosen to be in charge of cooking all the foodstuffs.

During one baraza meeting, Namwamba’s family was to prepare the meals for the meeting. Namwamba, in his preparations, approached his immediate neighbor Akwasi to borrow some of his pots as he had very few small pots. Akwasi was a well-known pot maker and prided himself in using the best cooking pots in the whole village. He was reluctant to lend his cooking pots to Namwamba as he was afraid he would not return them. However, after much persuasion, Akwasi agreed to Nawamba’s request but gave him four of his old cooking pots that were rarely used. Namwamba, though displeased with the conditions of the cooking pots, took Akwasi pots as he knew it would be challenging to get any pots from other village members due to his reputation.

The following day, Namwaba decided to return the cooking pots to Akwasi after washing them and adding two new pots. Akwasi was shocked at how fast Namwamba had returned the pots and how clean they were as he had anticipated that he would not return them. Akwasi was more surprised when Namwamba returned six pots instead of four pots that he had initially lent to him. When Akwasi inquired why there were six pots, Namwamba smiled and told him, “Two of your pots gave birth.” Akwasi was pleased to hear this and told Namwamba that he was welcomed anytime to borrow his cooking pots, even for his personal use.

Namwamba went again to Akwasi to borrow his magic pots, and was more warmly welcomed than the first time and instead of lending four pots that Namwamba had requested, he gave him eight of his best new large pots. The following morning, however, Namwamba did not return cooking pots to Akwasi, who was eagerly waiting for more than ten cooking pots. The second day passed, and still, Namwamba did not return the pots; Akwasi consoled himself that maybe the pots were taking long to give birth to new pots. Ten days passed, and Akwasi still had not received his eight cooking pots from Namwamba; he decided to visit Namwamba and find out the whereabouts of his pots. Namwamba came to greet Akwasi with a sad look on his face. After exchanging pleasantries, Akwasi inquired about his pots from Namwamba. Namwamba looked down for a minute, then looked up and told Akwasi,” Am sorry, my friend, there was a terrible accident, and all of your cooking pots died.” Akwasi left Namwamba’s homestead sad and gloomy; he was at a crossroad whether to believe if his pots had died or that it was just one of Namwamba’s cons.

Analysis

Namwamba and the Magic Pots myth has several messages that convey moral lessons. The first message conveyed in the myth is to avoid greed. Greed is displayed through AKwasi’s actions. At first, Akwasi was reluctant to lend Namwamba his cooking pots as he feared that they would not return despite Namwamba needing them for a communal function. He was shocked and pleased when Namwamba returned two extra cooking pots, and instead of returning them to Namwamba, he quickly accepted the cooking pots. As a responsible and selfless man, Akwasi should not have accepted the two extra cooking pots as they initially did not belong to him. He should have only taken his initial four pots and asked Namwamba to return with the two pots.

Secondly, Akwasi’s greed is portrayed when he gives Namwamba his old, rarely used cooking pots. According to Plato, through the human greed philosophy, greedy people keep quality items and products to themselves and give out poor quality items and products to others in the pretense of helping them (Balot, 2020). Akwasi being the best pot maker in the village, kept the god large cooking pots to himself and gave out small unused cooking pots to Namwamba despite knowing they were going to be used for a communal event. The greedy nature of Akwasi led to him keeping the good pots to himself and only giving out old unused pots.

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Akwasi’s greed nature is portrayed the second time Namwamba came to borrow his cooking pots. Namwamba had only come to borrow four pots but gave him eight pots. Akwasi did this as he anticipated that the pots would give birth again; thus, he would have more pots to himself. Moreover, out of his greedy nature, Akwasi gave out his large new pots as he anticipated receiving more new large cooking pots. Despite Namwamba trying to inform Akwasi that he only needed four pots for the ceremony, Akwasi insisted that he take the eight pots with him. Out of greed, Akwasi only thought about himself and the benefits he would receive by lending out many pots even if they were not used in the ceremony. This portrays the degree of Akwasi’s greed as being a good pot maker; he can make new pots anytime he needs them but still wants to get new free pots from Namwamba. The resulting consequence of Akwasi’s greed is that he lost all of eight large new cooking pots.

The second message conveyed in Namwamba and the Magic Pots myth is the spirit of unity and communism. Kojo village is a united village despite being sparsely populated. The village gathered together to conduct communal activities like farming and harvesting. This ensures that the activities are effective and efficient as different input from the different members of the village guarantees huge success of the village. Communal farming has benefits as it leads to food security with guaranteed harvesting each farming season. Secondly, conducting these communal activities in unity further bonds the village and improves personal relationships between the villagers. Through this unity and communism, Akwasi lends his cooking pots to Namwamba despite the latter being known for his mischiefs.

Secondly, the message of unity and communism is conveyed in the myth through the village’s barazas. The chief presided over the communal meetings that aimed to address issues affecting the community and upcoming celebrations. This portrays communism and unity as the chief had unlimited power to decide anything for the village under the guidance of his council of elders. However, he sought to engage the whole community in the decision-making process through representatives of each clan. This ensures that each issue affecting the clan and family in Kojo village is heard and addressed. The village’s whisperer also shows the spirit of unity and community in Kojo village by attending the baraza meeting despite being a prominent figure in the community. He communicated to the gods and answered to no one, even the chief.

Namwamba’s father and uncle also portray the spirit of unity and communism. Chief Kwabane wanted to banish Namwamba out of the village for his continued mischiefs and lack of responsibility. However, Namwamba’s father, who served as a member of the council of elders, and Namwamba’s uncle, the village whisperer, pleaded with the chief on behalf of Namwamba. This resulted in the chief not banishing Namwamba out of the community. The chief also portrays the spirit of unity and communism by listening to the pleas of Namwamba’s father and uncle despite having unlimited powers to make any decision without being opposed.

Reference

Balot, R. K. (2020). Greed and injustice in classical Athens. Princeton University Press.

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