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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creation Stories from Africa (Believing Part 3)

In parts 1 and 2 of believing is a choice; I presented the key factor for Christians believing in Christianity. We have a wonderful recorded revelation from God to us, the Bible, that is a legitimate part of human history. We are told the origins of the world and life itself within the Old Testament. We are told who to worship, how to worship and why to worship. Even with several other religions and gods availble for the masses to worship, Christianity grew and thrived and is one of the largest religions of the 21st century.

Christianity, as with other religions, come under fire from time to time from the academic community as being nothing more than unsubstantiated belief in a deity in a desparate attempt to make some sense out of the chaos of living. Undeterred, Christians have continued to stand on the Bible and all of its divinely written words that are more than mere stories but evidence of a divine God who loves and cares for His creation.

In Part 2 I wrote that there were several other religions which had their own creation account from their own god. I urged Christians not to become angered at this fact but to embrace that there are others with different beliefs and a history or written account of what they believe. Christianity is not the only religion with a rich history. This knowledge in its positive state is a testimony moreso to believing in Christianity and living a Christian life. When given a choice you have chosen Christ.

Even though there are several different religions, not all of them have a CREATION story like Christianity. For instance, in Africa, Voodoo is a religion that originated there and later spread to other regions of the world and still exists today. This is a religion but it does not have an account of CREATION attached to it. Some of the tribes who do have a Creation Story (Myth) is th eFon Cration Myth, Kaang Creation Myth, Kintu Myth, Mende Creation Myth, Mbombo, Ngai (Maasai), Unkulunkulu, and Yoruba Creation.

Voodoo is a derivative of the world's oldest known religions (many religions claim to be the oldest) which have been around in Africa since the beginning of human civilization. Some conservative estimates these civilizations and religions to be over 10 000 years old. This then identify Voodoo as probably the best example of African syncretism in the Americas. Although its essential wisdom originated in different parts of Africa long before the Europeans started the slave trade, the structure of Voodoo, as we know it today, was born in Haiti during the European colonization of Hispaniola. Ironically, it was the enforced immigration of enslaved African from different ethnic groups that provided the circumstances for the development of Voodoo. European colonists thought that by desolating the ethnic groups, these could not come together as a community. However, in the misery of slavery, the transplanted Africans found in their faith a common thread.

They began to invoke not only their own gods, but to practice rites other than their own. In this process, they comingled and modified rituals of various ethnic groups. The result of such fusion was that the different religious groups integrated their beliefs, thereby creating a new religion: Voodoo. The word "voodoo" comes from the West African word "vodun," meaning spirit. This Afro-Caribbean religion mixed practices from many African ethnics groups such as the Fon, the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos, Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous, Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese, Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches.

When slavers brought these peoples across the ocean to the Americas, the African's brought their religion with them. However, since slavery included stripping the slaves of their language, culture, and heritage, this religion had to take some different forms. It had to be practiced in secret, since in some places it was punishable by death, and it had to adapt to the loss of their African languages. In order to survive, Voodoo also adopted many elements of Christianity. When the French who were the colonizers of Haiti, realized that the religion of the Africans was a threat to the colonial system, they prohibited all African religion practices and severely punished the practitioners of Voodoo with imprisonment, lashings and hangings. This religious struggle continued for three centuries, but none of the punishments could extinguished the faith of the Africans. This process of acculturation helped Voodoo to grow under harsh cultural conditions in many areas of the Americas. http://istina.rin.ru/eng/para/text/508.html

Below is a sampling of CREATION stories from Africa:

1. Ngai (Enkai, En-kai, Engai, Eng-ai, Mweai, Mwiai) is the supreme God in the religions of the Kamba, Kikuyu and Maasai nationalities of Kenya. According to the Kikuyu beliefs, he lives on the holy mountain Kirinyaga (Mount Kenya).

According to the Kamba, he lives somewhere in a hiding place and no one knows where.
The Maasai of Kenya in their creation narrative recount the origin of humanity to be fashioned by the Creator Enkai from a single tree or leg which split into three pieces. To the first father of the Maasai, he gave a stick. To the first father of the Kikuyu, he gave a hoe. To the first father of the Kamba, he gave a bow and arrow. Each son survived in the wild. The first father of the Maasai used his stick to herd animals. The first father of the Kikuyu used his hoe to cultivate the ground. The first father of the Kamba used his bow and arrow to hunt.

Although Maasai people have also converted to Christianity, many still practice their traditional religion. The Maasai believe that he is the god of the sun, love and was the creator of the world; in another one of their traditions, this god married Olapa (the goddess of the moon). Leeming, David A. (2009). Creation Myths of the World (2nd ed.). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1598841749.

2. Unkulunkulu is the creator god in the language of the Zulu people. Unkulunkulu is believed to be father of Jesus and the term "Nkulunkulu" simple means "God". Other names include uMdali "Creator", uMvelinqandi "First than everything" also is uMvelinqangi in isiXhosa language. In the isiZulu language, the name means "the very great/high one". According to other myths, it is said that he came down from the sky to fight an Evil Demon and won against the Demon on a No Moon Day. His kingdom is heaven or Xenos "The land of angels and gods of protection". He is said to have created Primus angels Litu and his wife to be guardian angels of Jesus when he was born. He is also said to have created archangel Michael, Uriel, Gabriel... He also created Eden and Eva with Adam. His first angel was Lucifer the "Devil" whom later wanted to take the kingdom but was kicked out of heaven with few other angels.

The creation stories of Unkulunkulu tell that he came from the reeds, and from them he brought forth the people and the cattle. He created everything from land and water to animals. He is considered the first man as well as the parent of all people. He taught the Zulu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food. Leeming, David Adams; Leeming, Margaret Adams (2009). A Dictionary of Creation Myths (Oxford Reference Online ed.). Oxford University Press.

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoruba_religion#Creation In the Yoruba creation myth, Olódùmarè (also called Olorun) is the creator. In the beginning there is only water. Olódùmarè sends Obatala to bring forth land. Obatala descended from above on a long chain, bringing with him a rooster, some earth, and some iron. He stacked the iron in the water, the earth on the iron, and the chicken atop the earth. The chicken kicked and scattered the earth, creating land. Some of the lesser gods descended upon it to live with Obatala. One of them, Chameleon, came first to judge if the earth was dry. When it was, Olódùmarè called the land Ife for "wide". Obatala then created humans out of earth and called Olódùmarè to blow life into them. Some say Obatala was jealous and wished to be the only giver of life, but Olódùmarè put him to sleep as he worked. But it is also said that it is Obatala who shapes life while it is still in the womb.

4. Mbombo, also called Bumba, is the creator god in the religion and mythology of the Kuba of Central Africa. In the Mbombo creation myth, Mbombo was a giant covered with white skin who had the form of a man.

The story of Mbombo's creation tells that in the beginning, Mbombo was alone, and darkness and water covered the all earth. It would happen that Mbombo came to feel an intense pain in his stomach, and then Mbombo vomited the sun, the moon, and stars. The heat and light from the sun evaporated the water covering the earth, creating clouds, and after time, the dry hills emerged from the water. Then Mbombo vomited once more, bringing forth nine animals: the leopard, called Koy Bumba; the eagle, Ponga Bumba; the crocodile, Ganda Bumba; the fish, Yo Bumba; the tortoise, Kono Bumba; a black leopard-like animal, Tsetse Bumba; a white heron, Nyanyi Bumba; a scarab; and a goat named Budi. Mbombo also vomited many men, one of them all white like himself who is called Loko Yima.

These nine animals went on to create all the world's creatures. The heron created all flying birds but one, the kite, and the crocodile created snakes and the iguana. The goat, Budi, brought forth all the horned animals, the scarab all insects, and Yo Bumba, all fish.

Three of Mbombo's sons then said they would finish creating the world. The first to try, Nyonye Ngana, vomited white ants, but died after. To honor him, the ants went deep in the earth for dark soil to bury him and transformed the barren sands at the earth's surface. The second, Chonganda, created the first plant, which in turn gave rise to all trees, grasses and flowers. And Chedi Bumba, the third son, made the last bird, the kite.

Tsetse Bumba caused trouble on the earth so Mbombo chased him into the sky where he became the thunderbolt. This left people without fire, so Mbombo showed them how to make it from trees. Once the creation was complete and peaceful, Mbombo delivered it to mankind and retreated into the heavens, leaving Loko Yima to serve as "god upon the earth".The woman of the waters, Nchienge, lived in the East, and her son, Woto, became the first king of the Kuba.

What can be gathered from many of the CREATION myths is that man h as always believed there was one greater than himself that had created the world he inhabited. Man knew in some way there was honor due to this Creator. As I have said before, even when man gets some of it wrong or may not have an opportunity to be witnessed to, God has said even nature will testify of my existence.

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