In The Beginning – (An African Creation Legend)

"Earth And Moon" by xedos4 @ freedigitalphotos.net
"Earth And Moon" by xedos4 @ freedigitalphotos.net | Source

My People by Vusa'mazulu Credo Mutwa

Creation Myths

In all cultures there are stories envisioning the beginning of our world. We call these stories myths, legends or fables, although we are respectfully aware of the fact that some people perceive them as indisputable truths.

Africa has the most amazing stories. In this hub I am sharing one of the traditional creation stories of the amaZulu.

(Source: My People by Credo Mutwa. (Please note: Some of the detail provided by wikipedia don't correlate with my main source.)

"Earth" by xedos4 @ freedigitalphotos.net
"Earth" by xedos4 @ freedigitalphotos.net | Source

In the Beginning

In the beginning, out of the nothing, a woman-goddess created herself by order of the Eternal Spirit, Unkulunkulu. By order of Him, she also created the sun, the stars, and the sea.

Her name was Mma. Although immortal, she was cursed with the strangest longings and desires - anger, hunger, jealousy, sadness and love - and so she infected all humans and animals with the same. This is the reason why she is also called 'The Imperfect'.

After Mma the Imperfect had created the firmament she sat down on Thaba-Zimbi, the mountain of iron, and waited for more orders from Unkulunkulu. She became lonely and started to cry. She cried so loud that the stars trembled and some of them fell and her tears became rivers.

Eventually Unkulunkulu spoke: “Stop your hysterical outburst and continue to create a perfect universe!”

“No!” said Mma. “Before I continue I want a mate, for what is the sense in creating a universe only for myself?”

When the Eternal Spirit spoke to Mma from his space beyond the stars, all of the earth trembled with shock. “You, Imperfect, must listen to the voice of your master! You may not question my orders. The sense in creating the universe is only known by me. Your duty is not to doubt, but to do what I say. Get on with your work at once!”

Mma rose to her feet. She was beautiful with four enormous breasts, each with a gleaming green nipple of emerald. With her eyes of gold she stared at the space beyond the stars where she could see the vague light that was Unkulunkulu . In vain she tried to touch him with her hands. Her lips glimmered silver as she answered him, “Oh, I heard you, Unkulunkulu. You have spoken. As your instrument I will obey you for better or worse.”

The earth stopped trembling and the sea withdrew to where it is today, for they, too, had heard the voice of the Eternal Spirit for the first time.

Because Mma obeyed Unkulunkulu, he decided to give her a mate.

“What kind of a mate are you going to give me?” she asked.

“It will be a man, and hence you will be his opposite, a woman,” was his answer.

“Will he be beautiful, like me?” she asked.

“In my eyes nothing is beautiful and nothing is ugly.” And this was the last time Unkulunkule answered questions of Mma.

She sat down to rest again. Because she was a goddess she could not sleep. Her mind was filled with dreams. Eventually hunger made her rise again to look for her food, which was all kinds of metal. But all she could find was a tasteless piece of granite. She spat it out before she moved on to find something tastier.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source
A 6000 year old Boab tree in Africa
A 6000 year old Boab tree in Africa

Then she heard a macabre hoarse voice coming from the nearby mountains, calling her. “Come closer, my mate, I am waiting for you! I am the Tree of Life and I want you to be my mate.”

Excited and happy she started to run towards the voice, screaming with joy, “I am coming!” She stopped screaming when she saw monstrous arms coming from the dust under her feet, grabbing her.

He was a monster of a tree, larger than the largest baobab tree, and his legs were roots, larger than the roots of the largest baobab tree. His arms were covered with granite, diamonds and iron, and with his petrified lips he kissed Mma passionately.

She freed herself and fled, but the tree followed her into the Kalahari Dessert all the way to the Makarikari Lake. She dove into the lake and swam like a fish until she took off like a bird into the sky.

The tree found himself stuck in the lake, so he took a handful of rock, mud and sand and threw it at Mma. It hit her against her head and changed into the moon – where it controls the love of humans and animals until this very day - while she was falling back into the loving arms of her mate.

After many years of captivity in the arms of the Tree of Life, Mma felt something was growing inside her. It became an unbearable pain lasting so long she was compelled to count all the stars in the sky. (Even today the Africans say they are counting stars while they are suffering pain.)

Eventually, after a thousand years, Mma gave birth to a nation. They had no hair like the people of today. Their skins were red and their eyes yellow.

While Mma was giving birth to this nation, the Tree of Life ran to seed. Where it fell, it turned into trees. The trees bore fruit, and as it fell it turned into creatures of all sorts. From the bore of the tree came birds, among others the holy Kaa-U-La bird who had two heads. From the roots came snakes and all kinds of crawlers and insects.

And then there was life on earth.

Source:

My People by Credo Mutwa

Baitong333 @ freedigitalphotos.net
Baitong333 @ freedigitalphotos.net

Interesting:

According to this story all people looked the same and spoke the same language. Peace lasted for 10,000 years before the evil inside these people caused the origin of different races.

The baobab tree is still known as “Uhlanga Lwe Zeswe” – Reed of all Nations.

To follow: An African story about Evil.


© Martie Coetser

29 Dec 2013

© 2013 Martie Coetser

More by this Author


Comments 42 comments

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Very interesting story, Martie. I find it ironic that all people looked the same and spoke the same language for 10,000 years before they succumbed to evil. I look forward to the next African fable.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Martie,

I have loved legends and fables since a little girl. This story is beautiful, sharing your cultural nuances in a lyrical, compelling manner.

I wonder if you would consider publishing a collection of these tales...will eagerly await your next installment.

Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 2 years ago from London, UK

What a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing it, Martie. I hope you're having a great Christmas holiday.

Wishing you a fabulous 2014!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 2 years ago from South Carolina

Dear Martie,

This was a fascinating creation legend, filled with vivid imagery and symbolism.

Wish that we were living in a peaceful world.

Unfortunately that's just a dream right now.

Wishing you a wonderful 2014.

Sending Hugs, Love and Blessings,

Gail


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very entertaining and interesting, Martie....and a pretty powerful message mixed in for good measure. :) Well done my friend.


SilverGenes 2 years ago

There are some VERY interesting messages in here. I've always loved reading creation stories and this one is very different from most. Your descriptions are vivid and very beautiful!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I loved reading this very interesting creation tale, Martie. It's wonderful to discover unfamiliar stories from different cultures and to see how people in other countries view the puzzles of life. I'll share this hub.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Dear Martie,

I have always been fascinated by legends. Thank you for sharing this beautiful fable from your culture. Blessings and love to you for a New Year full of peace,

Faith Reaper


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

Hello Martie,

I have always loved the poems of Credo Mutwa. Thanks for sharing this story.

Sally


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Bravewarrior, ironic is a word that always makes me think, as if it is some kind of a riddle to be solved. I wonder how many years have past since the creation of Adam and Eve in the Bible and the story about the Tower of Babylon, when people started to speak different languages? Somewhere in between was Noah, the ark and the great flood, and Metusalech, who was the oldest man at 969 years, so if we think about it, it could have been 10000 years? Difficult to make sense of the first documented stories. Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comment :))


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

A female creator? Interesting beginning, but life always seem to degenerate. Thank you for sharing.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I love myths and legends…the creation of amaZulu is no exception. There is a kind of humble wisdom and grace with this creation; for example, why Mma was called, “The Imperfect.” And the artistry with the rest of this tale is beautiful. “She dove into the lake and swam like a fish until she took off like a bird into the sky.” The woman-goddess ate only metal and her mate was the Tree of Life; together, they created all kinds of life for the earth. I truly enjoyed this magical hub, Martie. There is quite a bit of symbolism with this legend. Thank you.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Myths, legends and even folklore are the gist for all of us writers. What a wonderful addition to your portfolio. What a splendid tale to start my day today.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

My dear marcoujor, the legends of Africa are amazing and I would really like to publish more of them. After all, story-tellers are story-tellers - free spirits with insight and vision.... what has been regarded as science fiction during previous decades - men walking on the moon - is history and current events today. So, also in myths we can see some truths presented as fiction.

Thank you so much for your inspiring comment and for checking my grammar in spite of your obligations :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, kirutaye, wonderful to see you in here. May 2014 be another successful year for you in your capacity as author of awesome romantic novels. You are a great ambassador for Africa! Take care :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Happyboomernurse, at this very moment I am listening to BBC news; according to the revolts, riots and wars all over the world peace will forever be something we may find only in another world. So sad! Thanks for your visit and comment :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Billybuc, and to think this legend has been told for ages, and yet I could not find it on the Internet? Thanks for your encouraging comment :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Silvergenes, I don't think it is easy to create a legend; one can but only present his own thoughts, knowledge, and insight. I salute the ancient story teller who has created this one. Thanks for your lovely comment.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Alicia, thanks for sharing. It is indeed interesting to read what story tellers with no knowledge about astronomy, evolution, science, and-and, had made of their perceptions and interpretations. Surely many must have accepted this as the truth for ages. Thanks for your visit.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Sallybea, fortunately I was able to borrow his books at the library. Who can afford to buy it? Overpricing a book is robbing people from the opportunity to obtain knowledge and evidently wisdom....

Thank you for the visit. Take care :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Faith, this is not a story of my culture. I am a descendant of European Protestants, so I grew up with Genesis 1 & 2. Interesting that this story was a cultural inheritance of the amaZulu long before they were introduced to Christianity. The fact that they had chosen a woman as the first living creature with magic powers is a proof that they had never regarded women less important than men. Until today women are held in high esteem by Africans, except by those who prefer to believe the ideas of some ignorant Christians and Muslims. Thanks so much for your comment :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

MsDora, please read my comment to Faith Reaper. I find all creation stories very interesting mirrors of human perceptions. Thanks for the visit :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Genna, I appreciate your comment more than you may know, as I have told the story my way. I love the symbolism. Imagine Mma was a man. Can a man cry rivers? Thanks for your lovely comment :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Mckbirdbks, I am so glad you enjoyed this African tale. I plan to share some Sumerian mythology as well; I have found it extremely interesting when I studied it in the '90's. Thanks for the inspiring comment.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

What a great story Martie, and very similar to others around the world. I love the way the earth became the way we know now, and all the myths and legends are so beautiful too, voted up and shared! nell


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A wonderful read martie and here's wishing you a great new year.

Eddy.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Nell, I have done some reading on Britain's pre-historic history again, and was once again amazed. The condition of the earth was, is, and will not always be user-friendly. Ìmagine ALL that was ever written disappear at once, where will we be? Thanks for sharing.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Thank you Eddy! Wishing you only the very best for 2014 :)


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Wow this was interestng! I love reading about folklore and ancient legends. I wonder how much got lost along the way? Wouldn't you know a man had to tell Mma what to do. lol..I too, hope you write more about legends of Africa. Here's wishing you a Happy New Year and may your blessings be many...Love you my dear friend.......


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi always exploring, I am so glad you enjoyed this one. Yes, I have so many plans, but I am in dire need of Time and Stamina :)) I wish you only the best for 2014 :)


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

In The Beginning – (An African Creation Legend) is such a beautifully thought of hub and with a powerful messaged indeed.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

I agree with you, DDE. The ability of human's imagination to find sense and meaning in what they see but not understand due to the lack of knowledge, is absolutely amazing.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 2 years ago

Rich and Wonderful story Martie...It's got a powerful messaged one needs to absorb...Folklore is as old as time it's self. As is Man...vs...Woman.

A very Happy and Healthy New Year in 2014 dear Friend stay safe.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Barbara, so good to see you! In a way all folklore make sense and emphasize a significant moral. As a keen story-teller and writer of fiction I can see into the mind and sometimes even into the soul of story-tellers/writers.

I wish you only the best for 2014 :)


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

Interesting how the beginning is conceived differently, yesterday is so interesting! Thanks for sharing, Mattie!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, midget, good to see you in my corner. I love history in all its facets :) Thanks for spreading the link :)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

So very interesting martie and voted up. I don't have notifications when you publish and I have missed out on many. This one was great and voted up.

Eddy.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Eidwen, good to see you. The notifications often disappoint. I wonder why? Thanks for the vote :)


Michael Milec 2 years ago

Hi Martie.

A curiosity filling narrative. Interestingly portraited search for invisible, unknown, yet present, an object to depend upon (?!). We the human just want and need connection and of association with something as likable name "Unkulukulu," which can happen after our spirit resides in the Creator's eternal love.

Voted up and interesting.

Have a great weekend.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Michael, I agree with you. Sadly, in our efforts to comprehend the incomprehensible, we humans tend to ridicule the awesomeness of the universe and the mighty power in/behind/above/beneath/wherever it is, was and will be. I hope you, too, are having a great weekend :)


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 21 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

I enjoy reading creation myths. I find similarities among many of them. Nice work, describing this in an interesting way.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 21 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi cam, so sorry you had to wait 7 days for my reply. Too much reality kept me off-line! I find creation myths a mixture of rational and creative thoughts, and definitely productions of the right side of the brain - the idealistic dreamer. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

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