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    Unathi's Christmas Day - A South African story for children

    Unathi’s Christmas Day By L. Harris

    In a village in the Eastern Cape in South Africa lived a boy called Unathi. He was a friendly boy who liked playing with his friends. One problem he had was that his parents’ homestead was across the river and high on the mountain, a little way from the rest of the village.

    To get to the village to play with his friends, he had to walk down the mountain and then skip from stone to stone across the river. He didn’t really mind because he would often see interesting things on his walks. Sometimes he saw lizards on the rocks, sometimes, eagles in the sky and even fish and frogs in the river. Unathi loved animals of all kinds.

    Unathi’s friends were very excited when he arrived to play with them in the village one day close to Christmas day. ‘Unathi,’ they said, ‘Chief Mgali has said that he will kill a cow on Christmas day and all the village is invited to a feast!’ All that day the children chattered about the Christmas feast that everyone was going to have. Unathi’s parents were poor so they often did not eat meat – his mouth watered at the idea of eating so much meat all at once.

    On Christmas day, Unathi got up early. His father and mother gave him his new clothes to wear. He had a pair of smart red shorts and a yellow shirt. He had nice new brown sandals as well. And a blue cap. He even had a new pair of underpants. He felt so proud of his new clothes!

    ‘Can I go to the village now, Mama?’ he asked. ‘Yes, my son,’ said Mama, ‘Your father and I will come soon with the vegetable soup I have made for the feast. I must just finish cooking it.’ Unathi walked fast down the mountain. He did not want to run in case he fell and dirtied his new clothes!

    As he was walking he heard a baaing sound from over the next hill. It sounded like a young lamb in pain. I had better go and look said Unathi, just in case it is a lamb from the village. He walked as fast as he could over the hill. He heard the lamb baaing more loudly. He looked between the rocks on the hillside and soon he found the lamb, stuck between two rocks. It seemed that his leg was hurt too. It was bleeding. ‘Poor lamb,’ said Unathi. ‘I will help you.’

    He was such a kind boy that he forgot about the Christmas feast and his new clothes and set about freeing the lamb. He had to struggle a lot and soon his new clothes were dirty. Once he had freed the lamb he realized that the lamb was too tired to walk although the cut on the lamb’s leg was not serious, so he picked up the lamb and started walking to the village. When he arrived he could smell the meat cooking and hear the people talking.

    As he walked to them his mother saw him. ‘Unathi, my son, I have been worried, why are you carrying that lamb, and why are you so dirty?’ she called. Unathi started to tell her his story when they heard a loud baaing from the chiefs’ kraal. The mother sheep had heard the bleating of her lamb. Unathi put the lamb down and the small animal ran to his mother.

    Chief Mgali had seen what had happened. ‘Boy,’ he said, ‘it seems you have rescued one of my lambs. Thank you. Come and take the first plate of meat.’

    The chiefs’ wife piled a plate high with meat for him. Unathi ate until his stomach was like a drum. His mother and father were very proud of him!

    Later, Unathi and his friends took charcoal from the dead fire and went to draw pictures on the rocks next to the river.

    The next day his mother washed his new clothes and they looked as good as new.






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