It is currently June 2nd 2023 and for a while now (at least over the last 3 years) there has been an obsession with taking European mythologies and making the characters darker skinned (aka black). Curiously enough a boatload of people have as just as many reasons why they had to do this, or should do it.
But why do it at all when the continent of Africa and the many islands of the Caribbean have just as many or more mythological stories that could be retold with a modern twist? So is the former really a retelling of a story with a new face or is it meant to anger and cause ever more division? All this negative dark-energy being cultivated by those from the underworld… doing anything… doing everything… but sharing knowledge without tainted theatrics.
Allow me a moment of your time to share with you stories from the ancient land of Africa aka Alkebulan.
African mythology, resplendent in its rich diversity, is an enchanting window into the continent’s soul. It’s the dynamic dance of stories whispered under moonlit skies and chanted across sun-scorched plains. In our exploration, we dive deep into this vibrant labyrinth of legendary beings and ancient epics, for these tales don’t merely recount myths. They resonate with the echoes of African wisdom and the continent’s cultural heartbeat.
I invite you to step into a realm where the boundaries between the terrestrial and celestial blur, where divine beings mingle with mortals, and where the forces of nature coalesce into sentient entities. Be prepared; this journey requires a daring spirit, but fear not! “Courage is the father of success,” a popular Yoruba adage rightly asserts.
In the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria, we meet the pantheon of Orishas, divine entities serving Olodumare, the supreme being. Each Orisha, like the robust ocean mother, Yemoja, and the tempestuous thunder god, Shango, embodies aspects of the natural world and human life. These stories elucidate the interconnectedness of life, nudging us toward harmony with ourselves and the cosmos. Remember, “He who brings kola brings life” – a saying emphasizing the Yoruba virtue of sharing and community.
Traveling northward, we reach Egypt, the cradle of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Egyptian mythology is a grand saga woven around death, resurrection, and the afterlife. Osiris, Isis, Set, and Horus – these gods not only hold dominion over natural elements but also guide the souls of the departed through the trials of the afterlife. These myths remind us of our mortality, urging us to live meaningfully, as in the saying, “The scales of justice cannot be swayed by gold.”
Down south, the Zulu people regard Unkulunkulu as the greatest one, who emerged from the reeds to create the world. The reverence for Amadlozi, the ancestors, is ingrained in Zulu mythology. In Zulu wisdom, “Umntwana kumele ahloniphe wona amalungelo ahlonipha wona” translates to, “A child must respect those who respect.” This reverberates the importance of respect for our ancestors and predecessors.
The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania worship Engai, a dual-natured deity of benevolence and vengeance. Engai illustrates the balance of good and evil; his tales inspire us to face adversity head-on. The Maasai teaches, “The eye crosses the river before the body,” implying foresight’s importance in tackling challenges.
Venturing west to Ghana, we encounter the Akan people’s pantheon, led by Nyame, the sky god. The stories of Anansi, the clever spider, serve as parables instilling wisdom and morality. As per Akan wisdom, “A ripe fruit will always fall to the ground,” suggesting the inevitable consequences.
Turning to Mali, the Dogon people believe in Nommo, amphibious beings sent by Amma, the sky god. Dogon mythology speaks volumes about their profound understanding of the cosmos. A popular Dogon saying is, “The world is a poro horn, he who does not blow it does not get a sound.” This encapsulates the virtue of active participation in life.
The threads of African mythology, stretching across the length and breadth of the continent, are painted with vibrant hues of wisdom, morality, and spiritual insight. Each myth and story is an intricate stitch in the grand tapestry of African culture, resonating with age-old wisdom and echoing the essence of humanity’s struggle, triumph, and existence.
In the mystical lands of Congo and Angola, Kongo mythology centers on Nzambi Mpungu, the creator, and Nkisi, lesser gods. They detail a mystical universe where the spiritual and physical realms coexist and interact. The Kongo people believe, “The teeth are smiling, but is the heart?” This saying reflects the importance of sincerity over outward appearances.
In the eastern region of Nigeria, we find the Igbo people. Their mythology is rich with tales of Chukwu, the high god, and the myriad of lesser deities and spirits that inhabit the world. Their stories testify to the belief in the spiritual dimension of existence and its influence on the physical realm. An Igbo proverb states, “The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did.” This suggests the importance of self-affirmation and personal agency.
Let’s turn now to the Hausa Bori mythology of Nigeria and Niger. Their mythos swirl around spirits that impact human welfare, each tale a testament to the interconnectedness of humans and the spirit world. A Hausa saying goes, “No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.” This evokes the wisdom of caution and the necessity of calculated risks.
Further south, the San, or Bushmen, of Southern Africa features a complex pantheon headed by Cagn, the supreme god, and various animal spirits. Their myths often explain natural phenomena, signifying their deep reverence for the natural world. A San proverb states, “A slender antelope knows the world is wide.” This quote reflects the virtue of humility and the importance of acknowledging the world’s vastness.
In the vast plains of Sudan, the Dinka people’s mythology revolves around Nhialic, their god, who interacts with the world through spirits. Their mythologies provide explanations for their social structures. A Dinka saying is, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” It represents the collective responsibility and unity in the next generation’s upbringing.
The Beninese Vodun tradition recognizes a single deity and a host of spirits known as Vodou. Here, mythology delves into the intricate relationship between deities and spirits, weaving a complex tapestry of interactions between the divine and mortal realms. A Vodun adage asserts, “No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.” This embodies the hope that better times will inevitably arrive, even in the face of adversity.
Our journey through African mythology would be incomplete without honoring the Amazigh of North Africa, the Akan and Ashanti of Ghana, the Fon of Benin, the Tswana of Botswana, the Swahili of East Africa, the Malagasy of Madagascar, the Oromo of Ethiopia, and the Somali of Somalia. Each of these mythologies holds its unique wisdom treasures, enriching the continent’s collective cultural heritage.
To understand Africa, we must listen to its myths and stories, echoing the land’s and its people’s heartbeat. Like the beautiful African patchwork quilt, every mythological story, every piece of wisdom, forms a part of the vibrant and diverse cultural heritage that Africa has woven over centuries.
In the symphony of tales, we find the profound African ethos, “Ubuntu,” meaning, “I am because we are.” This philosophy, rooted deeply in African consciousness, encapsulates the belief in a universal bond that connects all humanity. Through the lens of African mythology, we see this spirit, Ubuntu, echoing through the ages.
African mythology is not merely an anthology of tales; it’s the continent’s spiritual compass, guiding its people through the tumultuous seas of existence toward wisdom, unity, and enlightenment. The world of African mythology is a realm of vibrant dynamism where the whispers of the past meet the voices of the present, merging into a song of timeless wisdom.
This journey, although vast, only brushes the surface of the extensive mythological universe of Africa. It is, after all, a continent with a myriad of cultures, each with its unique cosmology and spiritual beliefs. While differences exist, a common thread of unity binds these myths to the idea of interconnectedness. The bond that ties humans to each other, to nature, and the divine forms the crux of many African mythologies.
African mythology paints a vivid picture of life, symbolizing the cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth. It teaches us the eternal dance between chaos and order, good and evil, and the divine and mortal. Each tale is a testament to human resilience, celebrating triumph over adversity and acknowledging the divine essence in all creation.
Moreover, African mythology offers a roadmap for personal growth. It encourages us to view challenges as opportunities, seek wisdom, respect nature and our fellow beings, recognize the divine in all, and live harmoniously. While deeply rooted in African cultures, these timeless teachings hold universal relevance. They beckon us to reflect, learn, and grow.
An African saying goes, “Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden.” Indeed, the wisdom of African mythology is a treasure to be shared, celebrated, and learned from. It beckons us to explore its depth, embrace its teachings, and weave its wisdom into the fabric of our lives.
As we traverse the path of life, let these stories guide us, the deities inspire us, and wisdom enlightens us. May we embody the spirit of “Ubuntu,” recognizing the universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. May we remember, as an African proverb says, “However long the night, the dawn will break.”
In the grand theatre of life, African mythology offers us seats in the audience and roles in the play. It invites us to participate, to engage, to question, to learn, and to grow. It challenges us to become spectators and creators in the grand unfolding of existence.
Through African mythology, we can gaze into the mirror of existence, discover our roles in the cosmic scheme, and align with the sacred rhythm of life. As we embrace these ancient narratives, may we weave our own stories guided by wisdom, enriched by experience, and inspired by the vibrant spirit of Africa.
Remember, as we delve into mythology and imbibe its wisdom, we are conversing with our ancestors. These tales, echoing from the depth of time, are their messages to us, guiding, encouraging, and inspiring us on our journey. So, as we step forward, let’s honor these stories and carry their wisdom into the future.
In the enchanting realm of African mythology, every story is a thread, every character a vibrant color, and every lesson a unique pattern. And as we weave these elements together, we create our beautiful tapestry of understanding.
In conclusion, let us recall an African saying, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” This adage serves as a timeless reminder of the power of unity. In our exploration of African mythology, may we, too, unite the ‘spider webs’ of wisdom, courage, and understanding to ‘tie up’ any challenges we might face. Let us be encouraged by the strength of Shango, guided by the wisdom of Anansi, and inspired by the courage of Horus. Let these ancient tales illuminate our path and empower our spirit as we journey through life.
I hope that you enjoyed this piece as it took me a bit of time to source though all of my books, the internet, and notes of my travels over this past week. Within the research there is always 50X more information that can be added but that would lead to an article that is quite a bit longer.
If you read this far and you want to know more, leave me a comment below.
I greatly appreciate all of you and through knowledge, wisdom and innerstanding we shall rise.