Back to the land



Save and edit this resource as a Word document

Content: This story is intended to encourage people to return to live in the countryside. It is the story of Dungu, his wife Nsimba, and their children. As it begins, they are living in town. When Dungu’s mother, who lives in their native village, becomes ill, Nsimba goes to care for her and her small farm. Dungu falls on hard times in town and returns to the village where he too becomes involved in farming. Because of his success, hard feelings against him develop, but in time he learns that greater progress can be achieved through co-operation with his neighbours. He also learns that life for him, his wife, and family is far more rewarding in the village than it was in town. This story is divided into two parts allowing for flexibility in its presentation.

The story is based on one originally written with the collaboration of village people, and widely distributed throughout the development community by an organization called World Neighbors.


Today, I have a story for you about a man and his wife and children. As you listen, you may find that you know people who have had similar things happen in their lives. Perhaps, even you yourself have experienced some of the things you’ll hear about.

Part I

From town to village

This story begins in a town where Dungu, his wife Nsimba, and their little girl live. Dungu has a job but today, at the place where he works, he feels a bit tired so, during the morning, he finds a nice comfortable spot, he lies down and goes to sleep.

Well, you guessed it, the foreman finds him sleeping and fires him. This makes it hard for Dungu and Nsimba. Jobs aren’t easy to find, and besides that, Nsimba is going to have another baby in a few months. Occasionally Dungu is able to get a job for a day or two, but the money they’ve saved is quickly used up.

Meanwhile, back in the village they came from, Dungu’s mother has become sick. She sends a letter to Dungu asking him to buy some special medicine. It will cost quite a lot so Dungu has to sell his good radio. This will provide enough money to buy the medicine and for bus fare for his wife and daughter to go back to the village with the medicine. It’s a sad parting for them as Nsimba leaves. She hopes Dungu will be alright while she’s away.

Dungu’s mother appreciates the medicine and the fact that Nsimba has come home to look after her, take her to the clinic regularly, and do all the cooking, sweeping, and washing. Nsimba also tends the old lady’s fields that she’s been unable to look after. She pulls the weeds, picks cassava leaves, and gets a neighbour to help her prepare vegetables to sell at the weekly village market.

At the market, Nsimba suddenly realizes that here in the village, she is actually receiving money for vegetables that she’s selling. This is the very opposite to what happens when she goes to the market in town. There she spends hard-earned money to buy vegetables, and here she receives money!

Weeks go by, and the old lady recovers. But by this time, Nsimba has decided that she likes it better here in the village and will stay. She enrolls her daughter in the village school.

Meanwhile, in town, Dungu continues to look for a steady job, but in vain. When he arrives home one day, very discouraged, he finds all his belongings outside the house. His landlady is throwing him out because he hasn’t paid the rent for a long time. In his search for a place to stay, a cousin who makes a living by stealing takes him in and Dungu decides he’ll take on the sly ways of his cousin.

His first attempt at snatching a wealthy woman’s purse ends badly for him. He’s attacked by some boys who help the woman. They beat him up, tearing his only clothes. In bitter disgust with himself, Dungu decides to leave town and go back to the village to be with Nsimba.

Without money for bus fare, Dungu walks and rides any way he can back to the village, where he is joyfully welcomed by his old mother and other members of his family. When Nsimba returns from the field, she and Dungu are overjoyed to be reunited. He’s happy to see her and their daughter looking so healthy.

Over the next few days, Dungu begins to realize what Nsimba has accomplished. On trips to the field, he sees her fine vegetable crops and her good-looking maize. He sees some fine sheep she has raised, and rabbits as well. Also, he realizes that she has a much better life here than in town and has had no trouble finding nutritious food. One day he goes to see a neighbour’s field that looks like it will produce a good harvest. Another day a group of villagers invite him to go hunting with them. All this makes Dungu start to think seriously about his future and the future of his wife and family.

Part II

Dungu and Nsimba become successful farmers together

In the evenings, Dungu and Nsimba sit and discuss their life together. They think about the advantages and disadvantages of both town and village life. Nsimba has already successfully made the move back to the village, and finally, they both decide to stay in the village.

They have been living with Dungu’s mother. Now that she’s well again, they realize that it’s time for them to move out on their own. The village chief is pleased to learn that Dungu and Nsimba want to remain in the village, and he gives them permission to clean up and move into an abandoned house. They both work at this. Dungu starts up a little business selling firewood, and begins clearing his own plot of land for growing food. The new baby is born at the maternity clinic and Dungu is happy when he realizes that, in the village, there’s not only good food but that the people have well-organized health care.

The weeks and months go by. Dungu and Nsimba do well with their farming and soon their third child is born. Dungu begins raising guinea pigs and Nsimba looks after her poultry. One day, they discover a dead chicken in her flock. They get worried and call on an experienced neighbour to ask him how to avoid this problem.

Another day, Dungu finds a disease in his cassava plants. He goes to the agricultural extension agent who explains that it’s called mosaic disease and tells him what to do about it. In the extension office, Dungu and Nsimba discover books and pamphlets for people interested in better farming practices and in the well-being of their village.

The extension agent invites them to some meetings in neighbouring villages where they meet other interested farmers and discuss their farming problems. Dungu and Nsimba learn about ways to improve their crops and livestock; they discuss them with each other and start using them. Their cassava yields get better. They become successful at growing potatoes and other crops, and their income greatly increases.

But at one point, Dungu and Nsimba’s good fortune seems to turn. One morning when Nsimba gets up, she finds that the gate of her poultry pen is open and all of her ducks and chickens are gone. Another morning, the rabbits have been let out. Dungu discovers that their crop of groundnuts has been destroyed. Again they are worried. Why have people in their village turned against them? Dungu and Nsimba decide that their neighbours are jealous of their success, and that, in future, they’ll try to help their neighbours in whatever way they can.

One day, Dungu notices some farmers talking together about a problem they have. He shares with them some information and materials he got from one of the farm meetings. Later he invites a farming specialist to come to the village and help his neighbours solve their problem. This visiting specialist comes other times to meetings, not only about better farming methods, but about how everyone can work together to improve life in the village.

Gradually, Dungu and Nsimba become friendly with all of their neighbours as they all help each other. Gradually, things begin to improve again for Nsimba and her husband. Along with their various other farming projects, they develop a very productive fish pond. One day, in their banana plantation, they rejoice at the prospect of a good crop. After harvesting it, with the help of a neighbour, Dungu takes the bananas to town and sells them for a good profit. While he’s in town, he goes to see his brother, Bal, and tells him of the good things happening in the village. He invites him to come and join the family.

Dungu spends a couple of days in town visiting his friends. He’s not ashamed to tell them what he’s doing now in the village and of his success as a farmer. He’s even able now to afford to pay for their refreshments as they visit together!

Before returning to the village, he goes shopping for gifts to take home to his family. After considering Dungu’s offer, brother Bal accepts the invitation to return to the village and join in the family farming business.

When they return to the village, there’s great happiness all around as the two young men’s elderly mother gives them her blessing. Bal’s future will now be bright, as his brother and sister-in-law teach him the good things they’ve learned about farming. And as for Dungu, Nsimba, and their three children, they look to the future with confidence, realizing now that they did make the right decision to return to the village for a far better life than they had in town.


1. Because this item is somewhat lengthy, it is written in two parts. This will provide you with some flexibility. The item can be presented in print all at once or in two consecutive issues of a periodical. Similarly, on radio, it could be broadcast all on one program or on two successive programs.

It is a story that easily lends itself to a skit format with different people playing the various parts. It could be done on radio, on videotape, or before a live audience.

2. It is intended that this material be fully interpreted in the local context and language of the farmers you serve. This of course includes substituting local names for those in the script.

3. You may wish to reuse information in our other two items on this subject:

Rural-Urban Migration – Package 13, Item 15

Life is Better in the Country – Package 17, Item 11