In The Beginning – (An African Creation Legend)
My People by Vusa'mazulu Credo Mutwa
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.
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.
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.
My People by Credo Mutwa
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