Saturday, February 23, 2019

Tsoma and the Mbada

Tsoma and the Mbada

a short story excerpted from

Beneath a Hunter's Sky

a collection of short fiction by John Bascom

The native African people of Zimbabwe belong to a host of age-old tribes including Shona, Tonga, Batoka, Ndebele, and Venda.  Each has its own spiritual and cultural traditions, and its own language. 
The safari district where we hunted was named for and defined on its western edge by the Chewore River.  Bounded on the north by the Zambezi River, to the east by the M'Kunga, and on the south by the Zambezi Valley Great Escarpment wall, it was completely uninhabited.  But the surrounding tribal areas were dotted with tiny subsistence villages of a few thatch-roofed, mud-walled huts each. There were no paved roads, motorized vehicles, electricity, or pure water other than what could be wrung from the seeps and elephant digs in the dry rivers.  Each village might have a band of a few goats and a small garden.  The area is unsuitable for large-scale farming or cattle.  Hunting by the native people is generally not allowed and subject to stiff legal penalties, although the meat from hunters' trophies is often donated to the villagers.  Unemployment in Zimbabwe as a whole exceeds 80 percent, much higher in these rural areas.  The life expectancy of a black Zimbabwean man is thirty-six years; longer-lived women can expect to survive to an advanced age of thirty-nine.  Mortality comes in the form of malaria mosquitoes, tsetse-borne sleeping sickness, AIDS, poisonous snakes, Nile crocs, ubiquitous lions, and assorted predators, all augmented by malnutrition and an almost complete lack of health care.
Yet despite all hardships and odds, these tribes and their villages have survived for countless thousands of years.  Africa is the undisputed birthplace of humanity.  Modern Homo sapiens first graced the Earth there more than a hundred thousand years ago.  The predecessors of modern man—”Lucy” and her kind who spent equal time in trees and on solid ground—stalked the African bush more than two million years ago.  It is safe to say every human alive today, whether their roots be European, Asian, Native American, or otherwise, descends directly from the African forerunners of these Zimbabwean villagers. 
Our field and camp staffs came largely from the Shona villages of the adjacent Dande South tribal area.  The strength and resilience of these people are inspiring.  Their practical wisdom and fascinating customs were fortifying.  While reading, writing, and mastery of English are rare among these villagers, still they have rich oral traditions that serve to teach moral and life lessons more than to simply entertain.  Our number-two tracker, Favor, was a young, fit, and cheerful man from such a Dande South Shona village.  His father having been imprisoned for choosing the losing side in one of Zimbabwe's many civil conflicts, Favor was taken in as a child and educated by Christian missionaries.  At their hand he learned passable English.  One evening after we had made a kill and were waiting for the bush-lorry to be brought in, he used that skill to share with us a Shona tale about a leopard, called “mbada,” and a bushbuck known in the local language as “tsoma.”  Given all of mankind's ancestral link to these people, the legend is as much everyone's as it is that of the Shonas.  This is the story.

he leopard had to work long and hard to catch his food.  He constantly chased and occasionally caught impala, warthog piglets, or even the odd young baboon.  He was quite good at it and his kills of this game kept him full and fit.  But these animals were not his favorite.
No, his favorite meal was the tender, delicately flavored meat of the bushbuck.  But the bushbuck was quick, clever, and elusive.  And when cornered, the small, elegant tsoma, unlike other antelope of the Chewore, would not hesitate to stand his ground and defend himself with his graceful, sharp horns.  To hunt the bushbuck was often difficult, fruitless, and dangerous.  And it distracted from his success on the easier prey.  Yet he constantly tried.  Finally, tired, discouraged, and losing weight, the mbada decided to make a deal with the bushbuck.
“Little Tsoma,” the leopard called out.  “Why should I waste my time and energy chasing you, and you waste yours eluding me?  Can we not call a truce and be friends?”
“If I agreed to such a truce,” said the bushbuck, “how could I know you would not attack me when my guard was relaxed?”
“We will strike a sacred oath before God,” the leopard said.  “Whoever shall break the truce, all their sons shall die.  God will see that it is so.  Neither of us could accept such a terrible thing.  Our truce will therefore endure.”
The bushbuck agreed.  He spent his days leisurely eating grass and leaves.  He had no need to be constantly alert nor to flee the mbada.  The leopard for his part hunted the easier prey and lounged in the trees for much of the day and night.  After a while, both became lazy and fat from lack of exertion.
One day the leopard was napping on a limb of a baobab tree just above the bushbuck sleeping below at the base of the trunk.  The leopard began to think about how tasty bushbuck meat was.  “I have no sons,” the leopard thought to himself, “only daughters.  And I am too old to have more children.  There would be no consequence in breaking the oath between us.”  He decided to pounce upon and eat the resting bushbuck.
But the leopard had grown weak and sluggish from little activity.  He stood up and sprang at the bushbuck too slowly.  The tsoma caught the motion from the corner of his eye in time to swiftly lift his head.  The leopard fell directly onto the raised long, sharp horns, completely impaling himself.
“Mbada,” the bushbuck said, “why did you break our bond?  Will not your sons now die?”
“I have no sons, Tsoma,” said the dying leopard, “and would have no more.  So the prophecy would never have been fulfilled.  But now you have killed me.”
“No,” said the bushbuck.  “It is your father who killed you.  You see, he made a similar bond with my father.  And your father broke it by killing mine.  Now the prophecy is completed with your death.  My role was never to kill you, but only to assist you in fulfilling the destiny put upon you by your father.  It has long been the duty of all bushbucks to help others fulfill their destinies.”
With that the leopard died, and the bushbuck lived to a ripe old age, siring many sons and daughters.

Read Tsoma and the Mbada and eighteen other stories of hunting, fishing, the outdoors, adventure and coming of age in John Bascom's collection of stories, Beneath a Hunter's Sky, available at Amazon

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Toxic Masculinity on HardWired News

Our satirical blog, HardWired News, has tackled the problem of Toxic Masculinity with tongue firmly in cheek.

Check out the hilarious full article at

HardWired News © is an imprint of Canniche Cove Publishing LLC

Monday, November 21, 2016

Zimbabwe Kudu Article in GameTrails

Article on my 2013 KUDU hunt in Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley (click on the title link below)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Alaska Goat & Sitka Hunts VIDEOS of Curt Kendall and Guide Eli Lucas

Curt Kendall is the son-in-law and sometime hunting partner of "Beneath a Hunter's Sky" author, John Bascom.

Kendall (right) with author Bascom above the falls on Slick Crick, Kuiu Island

Kendall was the inspiration for the book's short story, "Undeliverable", a humorous and fictionalized recount of their bear hunting trip together on Kuiu Island, Alaska.  He has now returned from a guided but otherwise solo mountain goat hunt in southeast Alaska.

Check out his VIDEO of the goat hunt with guide Eli Lucas; and also their sitka deer hunt

Saturday, June 27, 2015


John Bascom

"A wounded African lion faces-off with his tormentors just as all hell is about to break loose in "The Hundredth Lion". And in the allegorical tale, "Bear Hunt," a man comes to grips with his own natural mortality as he confronts a deadly, stalking Alaskan brown bear on Chichagof Island. These are some of the offerings in John Bascom's unique nineteen-story collection of short fiction about dangerous game hunting, fishing, adventure, and coming of age in his book, "Beneath a Hunter's Sky." Combining drama, humor, and nostalgia, Bascom pulls from his real-life experiences on safari in Zimbabwe, fishing in the Caribbean, and bear hunting in Alaska as he weaves his fictional tales with craftsmanship and emotion."

Table of Contents

Author's Note                                       v

In Africa                                              9
A hunter comes to understand the
most important things in his life as 
he faces lethal game in Botswana

Bear Hunt                                           41
The distinction between failure and
success is redefined in this allegory
of a hunter grappling with life and
death in southeastern Alaska

Undeliverable                                      69
Two hapless hunting partners see their
shared adventure very differently

Molly & Me                                          95
An alienated divorced father and
his daughter reconnect and heal
on a fishing trip to Beaver Island

Chewore Safari Journal                       115
An eleven story novella of the
author's hunting safari in the
Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe

         Renewal by the Chenje                        115
        Tsoma and the Mbada                          131
        Trial by Fire                                         137
        Joy & Mourning among the Mopanes      159  
       Whack 'em, Stack 'em, Pack 'em           177
        Bere and Mbada                                   187
        The Gray Ghost                                    195  
        The Widow-Maker                                 205
        Fear & Death above the M'Kunga           227
        The End of a Thing                               249
        A New Beginning                                  253  

The Fight of the Century                      261
A shy, scrawny young boy fights a                        
notorious tough in the 1950s and
wins closure with his father
The Hundredth Lion                            285
An arrogant client is paired with a
disapproving professional hunter
as they face a deadly lion

The Church of the Epiphany                 309
A Vietnam veteran father and his
son just returning from Afghanistan
share a legacy of wartime trauma

The Motleytown Bonefish
Extravaganza                                      327
A couple on a hastily arranged
bone fishing trip find themselves 
in an odd place with eccentric people

Beneath a Hunter's Sky, by John Bascom, is a collection of short stories about hunting, fishing, Africa, Alaska, and dangerous game.  At 348 pages, it is was ranked #1 by Amazon when released in the category of short stories.  Look for it in print and as a Kindle or Nook eBook on or Barnes&

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Praise for Caine's Pestilence
from readers and reviewers 

Wyblog US

I could summarize my review in three words: Read. This. Book… Caine's Pestilence is a masterstroke of satirical genius…I couldn't put it down. (Chris Wysocki August 21, 2011 



One of the most compelling and unusual books I have ever had the pleasure of reading...totally original and both comedic and horrifying at the same time.  From the time I opened the first page, it made me want to read it straight through…if you decide to read only one book this year, it should be Caine’s Pestilence.  (LD Jackson Oct. 2, 2011 


Free Republic

(H)ighly recommend, but …more scary than Stephen King's "IT" which, to this day, still causes goosebumples when I think of the clown-monster.  I will not even try to offer up a glimpse of the terror and horrible events that are part of the plot, and I do mean PLOT!!  Get it and set aside an evening to read it. Make sure the doors and windows are locked and unplug the phone! (GRRR…Free Republic, Sept. 7, 2011,


By Melinda Le Baron—October 30—Goodreads...very tightly plotted... dialogue is priceless...pacing lickety-split quick...ending so surprising you could have knocked me over...perfect for people who like finishing novels with a far this book is singular in its execution.


BGabby--January 20--Goodreads...I loved this book! Nancy Pelosi as president? G W Bush imprisoned for war crimes? The hopelessly politically correct doublespeak? I haven't laughed this hard at a political novel since Tricky Dicky and Good As Gold...All I know is that I'm keeping this one to enjoy again. FIVE STAR ***** Reader Reviews 

By R. Camp -- September 21 -- Super Thriller -- a real page turner. Each time you feel that you have the nailed down the bad guys, the writer throws another monkey wrench. If you have ever wondered about (political) motivations this book will make you stand on your head (and) slap your forehead (saying) "Duh, why didn't I think of that?" 

By Psychonate--Sept 1--awesome book! Amazingly entertaining...down right scary! Should be a requirement for students.  Finished in two days and that's only because I had to sleep and work.

By Dannette—March 26… rides the fence of politics beautifully, with a spot-on sense of timing and humor.  I found myself laughing countless times at the irony 


By "cobweb"—October 9…Spellbinding with an edgy awareness that the ridiculous situation inching Caine to his death is uncannily possible… Caine's observations, inappropriate humor and irreverent satire bind this twisted plot into an intriguing read and a wakeful night… Totally great reading and we want more. 


By Daune Robinson—April 14…can't remember the last time I enjoyed finding a new author this much - well, yes, I can - it was when I read Watchers and fell in love with Dean Koontz! This book was a pleasure to read. I laughed, cried, screamed and could not put it down. Read it! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CNBC Comments on Caine's Pestilence


Political Satire Novel Lampoons Nancy Pelosi, Liberals

"One of the most compelling and unusual books ...ever"  Political Realities


GLADWIN, Mich., -- Caine's Pestilence, a novel melding biotech mystery and political satire, has been released by Canniche Cove Publishing. Written by new author John Bascom, the fictional work unfolds in a surreal 2015  where Nancy Pelosi is president and the ultra-liberal wing of the Democratic Party firmly controls America.

The novel is distinctive in that it defies standard classifications of literary genre, containing elements of action-adventure, biotech science fiction, humor, and political parody. Bascom uses actual public figures as characters. In addition to Pelosi, Minnesota Senator Al Franken is the chief justice of the Supreme Court, while Rush Limbaugh is a fugitive beaming bootleg broadcasts into the US from Canada.

John Bascom, author
"I wanted to write something absolutely unique," Bascom says, "something that would give voice to my concerns about the destructiveness of the liberal agenda taking hold in our country, but in a way that avoids rants or preaching and is delivered in an entertaining, engaging way." Bascom's story unfolds from the pen of the simple, hapless central character, John Caine, writing his memoirs from his death-row cell. An obscure administrator at the National Institutes of Health, Caine fortuitously creates a biological agent that, accidentally released into the population, changes the perceptions of ordinary people about the liberal agenda. The Pelosi administration then goes crazy and Caine is persecuted mercilessly in their efforts to stop it.

The author's mission of entertaining and engaging has met with success according to the conservative, who calls Caine's Pestilence "...a masterstroke of satirical genius" and tells the blog's fans to Read. This. Book. Today! And the blog Political Realities says it's " of the most compelling and unusual books I have ever had the pleasure of reading." Individual Amazon reader-reviewers awarded the maximum 5 stars on average overall.

Caine's Pestilence is available in softcover or Kindle at and as a Nook eBook from Barnes & Noble.