Operas from Zambia
The Legend of Konga Mato: A Synopsis
Peri Phiri first meets Belita under strange circumstances.
Not all is quiet in a small fishing village on the banks of the Jiunda Swamp: kongamato have been stealing cattle, and the chief calls headman Phiri to a meeting to decide what they are going to do about stopping them. Earlier in the day, the headman’s son, Peri, released a strange young and beautiful woman dressed in black, Belita, who he found with his friends tied to a tree in the swamp shortly before kongamato attack the village again, as the sun goes down, severely wounding headman Phiri.
His father, not being able to travel to the chief’s palace, delegates the responsibility to his young son, much to the chagrin of the elders. Their view changes however when a young and beautiful woman dressed in back strides majestically into the village and walks straight to Peri, giving him a bundle wrapped in canvas, telling him to be careful.
The group leave to march to the chief’s palace overnight: first they meet a hunting leopard, then they meet another mysterious Lady in Black, but older. As they near the palace, they are attacked by kongamato, which wound one of their number but they are somehow rescued by the strange Belita. After the battle for the road, they meet Konga Mato himself, the fiery king.
Peri Phiri, Jazz and Blue Jeans meets the Lady in Black in the forest.
Not expecting to be further disturbed that night, the chief holds a welcoming dinner for his guests, only to be interrupted later by kongamato attacking the court house. Peri and his friends battle all night with the kongamato without much support from the chief or his indunas. It becomes clear that the attack and the fighting is about Konga Mato reaping his chief.
Just in time, Belita, the chief’s adoptive daughter, who was meant to have been sacrificed in the Jiunda Swamp to Konga Mato by the chief’s indunas, arrives with an army of women from the West. Observers there were surprised that the kongamato just disappeared and it appears that Belita is in fact Princess Mato of legend, the fiery princess and long-lost daughter of Konga Mato.
Peri is delighted to find Belita in the midst of the battle and declares his love for her, shortly before a final confrontation with Konga Mato as he comes to collect his chief. Neither Peri nor Belita can prevent this from happening but, in the kerfuffle, Konga Mato claims Belita as his princess and that Peri is a prince from distant place, declaring they are the new king and queen of the chiefdom.
After that, life for the narrator becomes rather boring.
The elderly Jazz telling the story of the Princess Mato and Peri Phiri.