Creation Myths of Africa

In the beginning, there was nothing but water and darkness on the earth. The lord of this chaos was the white giant, Mbombo. All was well until Mbombo began to be troubled by fierce stomach pains. They caused him to vomit out the sun, the moon, and all the stars. The sun shone, warming the Earth. The land dried, and water evaporated into clouds. Again Mbombo vomited. This time he vomited trees, and animals, the first woman and the first man, medicine, the anvil, and the firmament. From his expulsive efforts, everything was created. The lady of the waters, Nchienge, lived in the East. She had a son and a daughter – her son, Woto, became the first king of the Bakuba.

To the Maasai, the creator fashioned humanity from a single tree split into three pieces. Each of his resulting three sons was expected to support themselves in the wild. The Creator gave the first father of the Maasai a stick, which the Maasai use to herd their animals. To the Kikuyu, he gave a hoe, which they use to cultivate the ground and grow crops. The Creator gave a bow and arrow to the founding father of the Kamba, allowing him to hunt.

Mangala is a powerful being seen as an energetic, round presence. Mangala was created of four divisions, which represents the four elements of matter, the four directions of space, and the four days of the week. Also inside him were two sets of twins, each with a boy and a girl. The strain of carrying all this inside was exhausting, so the God compressed it all into a tiny seed, his creation of the world. Unfortunately, the seed exploded. Mangala destroyed the reminder of his failure, and tried again.

In his next effort, he created two sets of twin seeds, placing them in an egg shaped womb. He added more seeds until there were eight sets, which in time transformed into fish. The fish has become a symbol of fertility; the idea of dual-gendered twinship permeateds their culture.

While Mangala tried to maintain perfection, chaos interrupted. A male twin, the trickster Pemba, steals part of the wombs placenta. He threw it down, creating the earth, then tried to incestuously re-fertilize the maternal womb.

To save his creation, Mangala sacrifices Pemba’s brother, Farro, then raises him from the dead. The remainder of the placenta is transformed into the sun, forever linking Pemba with darkness. Farro became a human, and learned the language of creation from Mangala. He used words to defeat the mischief of his brother.

The sky serpent Damballah created the waters of the earth. As you move, his coils formed hills and valleys on earth, while creating the stars and planets in the heavens. The lightning bolts he released formed the sacred rocks. The rainbow was formed when he shed his skin, releasing water across the land – as the sun shone, the beauty of the rainbow became clear. Damballah loved the rainbow so much that she became his wife, Aida-Wedo, protector of the cosmos and the store of blessings.

The date is first shared their revelations in the legendary Nigerian city of Ife. All spiritual strength, everything in life, comes from there. Ife is located in Ginen, the world of the dead which was under the water below the earth. Upon death, the soul returns to Ginen to live with ancestral spirits and the gods.

The Zulu Creator is called Unkulunkulu, the Ancient One. He came from reeds, and used his power to bring forth people and cattle from the reeds. He created everything in the world – the mountains, the lakes, plants and animals. Through him, the Zulu learned how to hunt and grow food, and how to make fire to cook their food.