Thursday, October 28, 2004

Another Creation Story

A few weeks ago, I posted a creation myth that a language teacher shared with me from one part of Cameroon. I received several emails with positive response. Since then, I’ve run across a different story, from the Giziga in northern Cameroon. This tale is told in the book, Christians and Churches of Africa Envisioning the Future. I have reprinted it here in its entirety, asking forgiveness in advance, rather than copyright permission …!

Once upon a time, heaven was near the earth and God lived with man. Heaven was so near that men had to stoop to walk; yet they did not have to worry about what to eat, they only had to stretch out their hands and tear off pieces of heaven for food.

But one day, a young girl, a chief’s daughter, who was a mukuwan (a naughty girl who did everything the wrong way and the opposite of what others did), instead of taking bits of the vault of heaven to feed on, started looking to the ground and choosing grains she found on the ground. Then she made herself a mortar and a pestle to grind the grains she chose.

Each time she knelt down and raised her pestle, it would hit against heaven and also against God. Frustrated in her work, the young girl said to heaven, “God, won’t you move just a bit?” Heaven moved a bit further, and the young girl was able to stand up. As she went on and ground her grains, she raised her pestle still higher. Soon she implored heaven for a second time; again heaven moved a bit further. Then she began throwing her pestle up in the air. When she asked a third time, heaven became outraged and moved far away to its present location.

From that time on, men have been able to walk and stand up. They no longer feed on pieces from heaven, but have become millet eaters. In addition, God does not appear to men as he used to, long ago, when every evening, he would come and act as their arbitrator. Now men are left alone to settle their problems; hence there is war.