When Simbegwire’s mother died,
she was very sad. Simbegwire’s
father did his best to take care of
his daughter. Slowly, they learned
to feel happy again, without
Every morning they sat and talked
about the day ahead. Every evening
they made dinner together. After
they washed the dishes,
Simbegwire’s father helped her with
One day, Simbegwire’s father came
home later than usual. “Where are
you my child?” he called.
Simbegwire ran to her father. She
stopped still when she saw that he
was holding a woman’s hand. “I
want you to meet someone special,
my child. This is Anita,” he said
“Hello Simbegwire, your father told
me a lot about you,” said Anita. But
she did not smile or take the girl’s
Simbegwire’s father was happy and
excited. He talked about the three
of them living together, and how
good their life would be. “My child, I
hope you will accept Anita as your
mother,” he said.
Simbegwire’s life changed. She no
longer had time to sit with her
father in the mornings. Anita gave
her so many household chores that
she was too tired to do her school
work in the evenings. She went
straight to bed after dinner.
Her only comfort was the colourful
blanket her mother gave her.
Simbegwire’s father did not seem to
notice that his daughter was
After a few months, Simbegwire’s
father told them that he would be
away from home for a while. “I have
to travel for my job,” he said. “But I
know you will look after each other.”
Simbegwire’s face fell, but her
father did not notice. Anita did not
say anything. She was not happy
Things got worse for Simbegwire. If
she didn’t finish her chores, or she
complained, Anita hit her. And at
dinner, the woman ate most of the
food, leaving Simbegwire with only
a few scraps.
Each night Simbegwire cried herself
to sleep, hugging her mother’s
When it came to evening, she
climbed a tall tree near a stream
and made a bed for herself in the
As she went to sleep, she sang:
“Maama, maama, maama, you left
You left me and never came back.
Father doesn’t love me anymore.
Mother, when are you coming back?
You left me.”
The next morning, Simbegwire sang
the song again. When the women
came to wash their clothes at the
stream, they heard the sad song
coming from the tall tree.
They thought it was only the wind
rustling the leaves, and carried on
with their work. But one of the
women listened very carefully to
This woman looked up into the tree.
When she saw the girl and the
pieces of colourful blanket, she
cried, “Simbegwire, my brother’s
The other women stopped washing
and helped Simbegwire to climb
down from the tree. Her aunt
hugged the little girl and tried to
Simbegwire’s aunt took the child to
her own house. She gave
Simbegwire warm food, and tucked
her in bed with her mother’s
That night, Simbegwire cried as she
went to sleep. But they were tears
of relief. She knew her aunt would
look after her.
When Simbegwire’s father returned
home, he found her room empty.
“What happened, Anita?” he asked
with a heavy heart. The woman
explained that Simbegwire had run
away. “I wanted her to respect me,”
she said. “But perhaps I was too
Simbegwire’s father left the house
and went in the direction of the
stream. He continued to his sister’s
village to find out if she had seen
Simbegwire was playing with her
cousins when she saw her father
from far away. She was scared he
might be angry, so she ran inside
the house to hide.
But her father went to her and said,
“Simbegwire, you have found a
perfect mother for yourself. One
who loves you and understands
you. I am proud of you and I love
They agreed that Simbegwire would
stay with her aunt as long as she
Her father visited her every day.
Eventually, he came with Anita. She
reached out for Simbegwire’s hand.
“I’m so sorry little one, I was
wrong,” she cried. “Will you let me
Simbegwire looked at her father
and his worried face. Then she
stepped forward slowly and put her
arms around Anita.
The next week, Anita invited
Simbegwire, with her cousins and
aunt, to the house for a meal. What
a feast! Anita prepared all of
Simbegwire’s favourite foods, and
everyone ate until they were full.
Then the children played while the
Simbegwire felt happy and brave.
She decided that soon, very soon,
she would return home to live with
her father and her stepmother.