Origination of “the depth of my footprints”

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Ng’andu Magande

Once I had become familiar with the grazing grounds for our cattle and goats at the age of seven years, Simwaale, my father decided that it was time for me to take the animals in the bush, alone. On my first day, I took the animals far away from home.
The tranquillity of the bush, while herding the cattle, gave me the opportunity to study. I learnt how to skilfully combine the roles of a shepherd boy and a student by taking my school work with me into the bush, since we had no lights to read at night. I practised my arithmetic by counting the different tree species.
One day, while the animals enjoyed the green vegetation and I got absorbed with my reading under a shade, suddenly, I heard some strange frightening sounds behind a dense thicket on an anthill. I started to round up the animals in readiness for a retreat. I was about to drive the animals away, when my father emerged from behind the thicket. He remarked that he was impressed by my brave reaction of gathering the animals instead of taking flight. My father went on to say that I had passed the most difficulty test in leadership, which encompasses bravery and courage.
Being away in the bush guarding, guiding, and protecting a herd of cattle and goats from predators and stopping them from mischief of eating people’s crops, provided the fertile environment for training into responsible adulthood. By the age of nine years, I had accumulated much knowledge on the culture and codes of the value system of my people. Admittedly, there was often pain and humiliation, but the experience was a vital building block for my adult life.
Simwaale often stalked me to ensure my safety and to confirm that I took the animals to the agreed grazing area. The new maize crop, which was very attractive to the cattle and goats, meant that I had to be very alert throughout the day. Any lapse on my part resulting in the animals straying into a crop field would invoke a beating by the owner of the maize and by my father for being careless.
One day, after my father caught up with me, I asked him how he was able to locate me in the different areas of the grazing lands. My father revealed that among the clues, he carefully read and followed my deep footprints. I then realized that one’s path in life is defined by the depth of one’s footprints. “The Depth of My Footprints” is the narration of my life story in remembrance of the conversation I had with my father on the slopes of the Namaila hills” from my Memoirs.


One Response to Origination of “the depth of my footprints”

  1. Where can I obtain a copy of this book? I’m based in Lusaka. Kindly advise.

    March 25, 2018 at 6:50 am

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