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Central Africa

Bashongo

In the beginning there was only darkness, water, and the great god Bumba. One day Bumba, in pain from a stomach ache, vomited up the sun. The sun dried up some of the water, leaving land. Still in pain, Bumba vomited up the moon, the stars, and then some animals: the leopard, the crocodile, the turtle, and, finally, some men, one of whom, Yoko Lima was white like Bumba.

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Mali

Dogon

At the beginning of time, Amma (a supreme god who lived in the celestial regions and was the origin of all creation) created the Earth and immediately joined with it. But the Earth's clitoris opposed the male penis. Amma destroyed it, circumcising his wife, and they had a child, Ogo, and the twins, the Nommo. Ogo had no partner and was barren, so he introduced disorder into the world by committing incest with his mother, Earth. The first menstrual blood came from this union, as well as Yeban and Andumbulu, the spirits of the underworld.
Amma created the stars by throwing pellets of earth into space. He created the sun and moon by modelling two white earthenware bowls, one encircled with red copper, the other with white copper. Black people were born under the sun and white people under the moon. (The latter paragraph is quoted in L.V.Thomas, Les Religions de L'Afrique noire, Paris, 1969)

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Ethiopia

Wak

Wak was the creator god who lived in the clouds. He kept the vault of the heavens at a distance from the earth and covered it with stars. He was a benefactor and did not punish. When the earth was flat Wak asked man to make his own coffin, and when man did this Wak shut him up in it and pushed it into the ground. For seven years he made fire rain down and the mountains were formed. Then Wak unearthed the coffin and man sprang forth, alive. Man tired of living alone, so Wak took some of his blood, and after four days, the blood became a woman whom the man married. They had 30 children, but the man was ashamed of having so many so he hid 15 of them. Wak then made those hidden children into animals and demons.

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Nigeria

Efik

According to the Efik tribe from Nigeria, the creator, Abassi, created two humans and then decided to not allow them to live on earth. His wife, Atai, persuaded him to let them do so. In order to control the humans, Abassi insisted that they eat all their meals with him, thereby keeping them from growing or hunting food. He also forbade them to procreate. Soon, though, the woman began growing food in the earth, and they stopped showing up to eat with Abassi. Then the man joined his wife in the fields, and before long there were children also. Abassi blamed his wife for the way things had turned out, but she told him she would handle it. She sent to earth death and discord to keep the people in their place.

Ekoi

According to the Ekoi tribe from Nigeria, in the beginning there were two gods, Obassi Osaw and Obassi Nsi. The two gods created everything together. Then Obassi Osaw decided to live in the sky and Obassi Nsi decided to live on the earth. The god in the sky gives light and moisture, but also brings drought and storms. The god of the earth nurtures, and takes the people back to him when they die. One day long ago Obassi Osaw made a man and a woman, and placed them upon the earth. They knew nothing so Obassi Nsi taught them about planting and hunting to get food.

Yoruba

Every African tribe had its creator god. He was called Obatala by some and Yansan, Olorun or Ogun by others. Some Yoruba tribes called him Shango. Shango was the god of thunder and the ancestor of the kings of Oyo. He was virile and virulent. He dispensed justice, punishing wicked people such as liars, thieves and criminals. His favorite weapon was the thunderbolt. His emblem was a two-headed axe. Shango had three wives: Oya, Oshun, and Oba (all three are rivers). See Creation/Flood Myth for the creation myth.

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Gabon

Fang

In the beginning there was nothing but Nzame. This god is really three: Nzame, Mebere, and Nkwa. It was the Nzame part of the god that created the universe and the earth, and brought life to it. Whle the three parts of Nzame were admiring this creation, it was decided to create a ruler for the earth. So was created the elephant, the leopard, and the monkey, but it was decided that something better had to be created. Between the three of them they made a new creature in their image, and called him Fam (power), and told him to rule the earth. Before long, Fam grew arrogant, he mistreated the animals and stopped worshipping Nzame. Nzame, angered, brought forth thunder and lightning and destroyed everything that was, except Fam, who had been promised immortality. Nzame, in his three aspects, decided to renew the earth and try again. He applied a new layer of earth to the planet, and a tree grew upon it. The tree dropped seeds which grew into more trees. Leaves that dropped from them into the water became fish, those that dropped on land became animals. The old parched earth still lies below this new one, and if one digs deep enough it can be found in the form of coal. Nzame made a new man, one who would know death, and called him Sekume. Sekume fashioned a woman, Mbongwe, from a tree. These people were made with both Gnoul (body) and Nissim (soul). Nissim gives life to Gnoul. When Gnoul dies, Nissim lives on. They produced many children and prospered.

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Rwanda

Gihanga

According to one of the legends from rwandan oral tradition, Gihanga was the father of the three ancestors of all rwandans.: of Gatwa, father of the Twa, Gahutu, father of the Hutus and Gatutsi that of the Tutsis. Not knowing upon which of the three to bequeath his inheritence, the old man set up a challenge to determine the characteristics of each of his sons. He entrusted a gourd of milk overnight to each of them. The following morning, at the end of the ancestral night, Gihanga came back to see what the three men had done with their gourd of milk. Gatwa was immidietly disqualfied and bannished, for he had struggled in his troubled sleep and knocked over his gourd of milk. Gahutu was disinherited and condemned to work for Gatutsi, beacause he had become thirsty during the night, drank the milk and gone back to sleep. Only Gatutsi had remained sober and managed to preserve what had been entrusted to him. Hence, Gihanga. designated Gatutsi as his succesor, handed down to him the entire herd of Rwandas cows, and exempted him from all manual labour.

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Uganda

Buganda

Long long ago, Kintu was the only person on the earth. He lived alone with his cow, which he tended lovingly. Ggulu the creator of all things lived up in heaven with his many children and other property. From time to time, Ggulu's children would come down to earth to play. On one such occasion, Ggulu's daughter Nambi and some of her brothers encountered Kintu who was with his cow in Buganda. Nambi was very fascinated with Kintu and she felt pity for him because he was living alone. She resolved to marry him and stay with him despite the opposition from her brothers. But because of her brothers' pleading, she decided to return to heaven with Kintu and ask for her father's permission for the union.

Ggulu was not pleased that his daughter wanted to get married to a human being and live with him on the earth. But Nambi pleaded with her father until she persuaded him to bless the union. After Ggulu decided to allow the marriage to proceed, he advised Kintu and Nambi to leave heaven secretly. He advised them to pack lightly and that on no condition were they to return to heaven even if they forgot anything. This admonition was so that Walumbe, one of Nambi's brothers should not find out about the marriage until they had left, otherwise he would insist on going with them and bring them misery ( walumbe means that which causes sickness and death). Kintu was very pleased to have been given a wife and together they followed Ggulu's instructions. Among the few things that Nambi packed, was her chicken. They set out for earth early the next morning.

But while they were descending, Nambi remembered that she had forgotten to bring the millet that her chicken would feed on. "I have left my chickens' millet on the porch, let me return and fetch it," she begged Kintu. But Kintu refused and said, "Don't go back. If you do, you will meet Walumbe and he will surely insist on coming with you." Nambi, however, did not listen to her husband, and leaving him on the way she returned to fetch the millet. When she reached the house, she took the millet from the porch, but on her way back, she suddenly met Walumbe who asked: "My sister, where are you going so early in the morning? Nambi did not know what to say. Filled with curiosity, Walumbe insisted on going with her. Therefore Kintu and Nambi were forced to go to earth together with Walumbe.

It did not take long for Kintu and Nambi to get children. One day, Walumbe went to Kintu's home and asked his brother-in-law to give him a child to help him with the chores in his (Walumbe's) house. But remembering Ggulu's warning, Kintu would not hear of it. Walumbe became very angry with Kintu for refusing him the simple favor he had asked. That very night, he went and killed Kintu's son. Naturally, this caused a deep rift between them. Kintu went back to heaven to report Walumbe's actions to Ggulu. Ggulu rebuked Kintu, reminding him of the original warning he had disregarded. Kintu blamed Nambi for returning to get the millet. Ggulu then sent another of his sons, Kayikuuzi, to go back to earth with Kintu and try to persuade Walumbe to return to heaven or if necessary return him by force.

On reaching earth, Kayikuuzi tried to persuade Walumbe to go back to heaven but Walumbe would not hear of it. "I like it here on earth and I am not coming back with you" he said. Kayikuuzi decided to capture Walumbe by force, and a great fight broke out between them. But as Walumbe was about to be overpowered, he escaped and disappeared into the ground. Kayikuuzi went after him, digging huge holes in the ground to try and find his brother. When Kayikuuzi got to where he was hiding, Walumbe run back out to the earth. Further struggle between the brothers ensued but once again Walumbe escaped into the ground. The famous caves that are found today at Ttanda in Ssingo are said to be the ones that were dug by Kayikuuzi in the fight with his brother Walumbe. (Kayikuuzi means he who digs holes).

The struggle went on for several days and by now, Kayikuuzi was close to exhaustion. So he went and talked to Kintu and Nambi as follows: "I am going back into the ground one more time to get Walumbe. You and your children must stay indoors. You must strictly enjoin your children not to make a sound if they see Walumbe. I know he is also getting tired so when he comes out of the ground, I will come upon him secretly and grab him." Kintu and Nambi went into their house, but some of the kids did not go in. Kayikuuzi once again went underground to find Walumbe. After a struggle, Walumbe came back out to the surface with Kayikuuzi in pursuit. Kintu's children who were outside at the time saw Walumbe coming and sreamed in terror. On hearing the screams, Walumbe went underground once again. Kayikuuzi was furious with Kintu and Nambi for not having followed his instructions. He told them that if they did not care to do the simple thing he had asked of them, he was also giving up the fight. Kintu in his embarrassment had nothing more to say. So he told Kayikuuzi "You return to heaven. If Walumbe wants to kill my children, let him do so, I will keep having more. The more he kills, the more I will get and he will never be able to kill off all my children". Ttanda, where the fight between Walumbe and Kayikuuzi allegedly took place is figuratively referred to as the place of death (i.e. Walumbe's place).

So that is the legend of creation, and how sickness and death started. Nonetheless, Kintu's descendants will always remain as Kintu said in his last words to Kayikuuzi. Hence the Kiganda saying "Abaana ba Kintu tebalifa kuggwaawo". Which means that Kintu's children (i.e. the Baganda), will never be wiped off the face of the earth.

Kato Kintu the first king used this saying to his advantage, by taking on the name of the reputed father of all people in Buganda. However Kintu the legend and Kato Kintu the first king are distinct and should not be confused with one another. Kintu the legend was reputedly the first person on earth and therefore could not have been a king since he had no people to rule over!

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South Africa

Zulu

The Ancient One, known as Unkulunkulu, is the Zulu creator. He came from the reeds (uthlanga, means source) and from them he brought forth the people and the cattle. He created everything that is: mountains,streams, snakes, etc. He taught the Zulu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food. He is considered to be the First Man and is in everything that he created.

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Zimbabwe

Hungwe

Maori created the first man, Mwuetsi, who became the moon. Maori gave him a ngona horn filled with ngona oil and told him he would live at the bottom of the waters. Mwuetsi objected and said he wished to live on the land. Maori reluctantly agreed, but said Mwuetsi would give up immortality if he did. After a while Mwuetsi complained of loneliness, so Maori sent him a woman, Massassi (the morning star), to keep him company for two years. Each night they slept on opposite sides of a campfire, until one night Mwuetsi jumped over the flame and touched Massassi with a finger he had moistened with the ngona oil. In the moning Massassi was huge, and soon gave birth to plants and trees until the whole earth was covered by them. At the end of two years Maori took Massassi away. Mwuetsi wept for eight years, at which time Maori sent him another woman, Morongo (the evening star), saying that she could stay for two years. On the first night Mwuetsi touched her with his oiled finger, but she said she was different than Massassi, and that they would have to oil their loins and have intercourse. This they did, this night, and every night thereafter. Every morning Morongo gave birth to the animals of creation. Then she gave birth to human boys and girls, who became full-grown by that very same evening. Maori voiced his disleasure with a fierce storm, and told Mwuetsi he was hastening his death with all this procreation. Morongo, ever the temptress, instructed Mwuetsi to build a door to their habitat so that Maori could not see what they were doing. He did this, and again they slept together. Now in the morning Morongo gave birth to violent animals; snakes, scorpions, lions, etc. One night Morongo told Mwuetsi to have intercourse with his daughters, which he did, thereby fathering the human race.

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Countries

Algeria . Angola . Benin . Botswana . Cameroun .Congo, Kinshasa . Congo, Brazzaville . Djibouti . Egypt . Ethiopia . Ghana . Ivory Coast . Kenya . Madagascar . Morocco . Mozambique . Mali . Nigeria . Rwanda . Senegal . South Africa . Sudan . Tanzania . Uganda . Zambia . Zimbabwe .


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