Around 1865 a Maasai man married a Sukuma woman whose older brother was Nganga
Holo, the Chief of Ng’wagala in the present Maswa District of Shinyanga Region,
Tanzania. The chief gave his sister cows to take to her new home. At first the
cows multiplied, but then there was a severe famine in Maasailand and all the
cows died due to the lack of grazing grass. The Maasai children remembered
their Sukuma uncle and said: "Rather than die in this famine let’s go to our
uncle for help. For all his wealth and possessions belong to us too.”
Arriving at their uncle’s home in Sukumaland the Maasai said: "Our cows have
died. Please give us some more." The chief’s children refused so the Maasai
asked: "Why can’t we be given more?" The Sukuma said: "The cows you were given
at first were enough. You can’t ask for more now. If you think you will starve
in the present famine you better stay here with us." But the chief’s Maasai
nephews told the chief’s Sukuma sons: "Why do you refuse? The cows of our uncle
belong to us too." Again the Sukuma refused and said: "If you think they belong
to your uncle and you just try to take them away from us if you are really
strong men." The Maasai answered: "Today we have nothing to say. We’ll come
for the cows on another day."
many days two Maasai warriors came running up and threatened to spear the
Ng’wagala people. The Sukuma informed their war leader and asked if they should
attack the Maasai with spears. The proud Ng’wagala war leader scornfully
refused saying: "First let their number increase." This happened three times.
The fourth time the Maasai warriors came in a large group and attacked at once.
They defeated the Ng’wagala people and took all their cows. The Maasai left
behind a few cows for their uncle to kill and eat saying: "If our uncle weren’t
alive we wouldn’t leave even these few cows." From this true story comes the Sukuma proverb If the number of Maasai increases the people of Ng’wagala will
Ever since when
the Sukuma people finish all the meat or fish sauce or maize cooked on the cob
or potatoes they say "increase" or "that killed Ng’wagala”
meaning: "Bring more food; we are not satisfied yet." If the cook says
that the meat or fish sauce is all finished the man of the house can get
hot-tempered and say: "I brought a great deal. How can it all be
finished?" So a long time ago “increase” destroyed Ng’wagala and today it can cause trouble in a family.