The Full Moon Prince

Published: 05th August 2015 05:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th August 2015 05:14 AM   |  A+A-


A legend of the Basotho people from Lesotho, known as the Roof of Africa. Lesotho is a small mountain country south of that continent. 


The very first king of the Basotho people was Khoedi-Sefubeng, who was marked by a brilliant silver moon on his chest. The moon on his chest was so bright that as he went around his kingdom at night, the silver disc lit up the entire place and his people could go about their work just as if it were day.

Khoedi-Sefubeng (his rather complicated name simply meant Moon-on-the-Chest) was a divine persona with magical powers. He could predict the future. The king had ten wives (nothing uncommon in those parts) and he proclaimed that they would soon give birth to sons. All of them would have a cosmic mark –  a star, a crescent or a half moon on the chest, much like their father. “But one of them will be born with a full moon, like mine. And he alone will succeed me on the throne,’’ he announced. 

Shortly after that all his ten wives were with child (at the same time) and anxiously awaited their child’s arrival. Which of them would be the mother of the future king? When the births happened, it was inside the first Queen Morongue’s hut that a brilliant silvery light shone brightest, for her son alone was born with the full moon mark on his chest.

Morongue was a delicate, beautiful girl who had only prayed that she be blessed with a healthy child. After the birth she was very weak and fell asleep without even seeing her child, who was the chosen one.

Mythology (2).jpgBut Khoedi-Sefubeng’s evil second queen could see Morongue's brightly lit hut from hers and knew to whom the full moon prince was born. Her own son, who lay beside her, had just a crescent moon on his chest. She had to do something quick before the king came. 

She sent for the midwife and bribed her generously to hide the infant under the old beddings in the corner of the room (where she was sure the unattended child would soon be dead). “You can put a little puppy in his place. Let the king see what kind of offspring Morongue has given him!” she laughed wickedly.

And so the child was hidden amidst some old mattresses and a puppy was placed beside the first Queen, who was shocked to see it on waking up. The king was very angry. “What wicked thing have you done to give birth to a dog?” Morongue wept and begged for forgiveness, little knowing what her crime was. But her misfortunes had only begun for she was punished and sent to work as a maid to the second wife.

The full moon prince did not die. The mice who lived there fed him milk with crumbs of food dipped in it. One day the second queen was taking a walk in the evening and she could see a bright ray of light coming from Morongue’s old hut. That meant the moon prince was alive! So she went to her husband and demanded that the hut be razed to the ground. “Morongue’s hut is unused and dirty. It’s filled with rats and snakes. You must have it burned down immediately!” she told him.

Now one of the mice lived under the throne of the king and on hearing this, he rushed to his friends in the hut and warned them of the danger. “Quick, take the prince to the cowshed, he’ll be safe there,” he instructed them and rushed back to his abode.

The mice dragged the old mat on which the baby lay to the cow's enclosure. It was a tough job but they were brave and determined to save the moon child. The cow, whose calf had recently been slaughtered for a feast, was only too glad to help. She fed the infant her own milk and looked after him tenderly.

Again on another evening the evil second queen was taking her walk, this time near the cow enclosure. She happened to notice the bright light coming from there. She went inside and was shocked to see the boy, a big, strong, beautiful child! How could he have grown so much? she wondered.

She rushed to the King’s chambers once more. “I was walking by that old cowpen in our courtyard today. It's so dirty and smells so bad. I really don’t know why you want to keep that old cow in there when we have such a large cow enclosure outside. Kill that old one tomorrow and burn that place down.”

Our friend the mouse who lived under the king's throne immediately alerted the cow. “The Prince’s life, and yours, is in grave danger. They’re going to slaughter you tomorrow and raze this place to the ground. You have to leave at once!”

“Where do I go with this small child? How will he survive outside?” The cow was more worried about her little charge, who was playing quietly in the hay.

“Don’t worry. It’s night and everybody’s asleep. Go to the lake near the forest. The crabs there will take care of the child,” he told the cow. The cow asked the boy to climb on her back. “Hold on to me tight for we have to get out of here quickly,” she told him.

The sky was all darkness that night but the moon prince lit the path all the way the lakeside where the crabs lived.

 To be continued…..


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