African Genesis/ based on African mythology
By: Aadel M Al-Mahdy
“It’s going to be a good night” Kumbo, who is an African postgraduate of Zembaba University, said while lying in front of the tent pitched by his British friend and he in proximity of his bushman village. Sipping on his drink, his friend answered, “I hope so. It has been unbearably hot during the day”
Fascinated by the stories he heard in his childhood from his grandparents, Kumbo loved every African myth he laid his hands on, and because of the young awareness of African mythology by other contemporary cultures, he decided to collect the oral legacy retained in the hearts and minds of his own people for generations, while it is still untainted and still in its original form; a great task requiring the assistance of a friend.
“Do you remember the mountain caves by the ocean?” Kumbo asked. “The ones we visited two days ago!”, his friend wondered. Kumbo answered affirmatively. His friend then asked him, “What about them...Aren't they fascinating and defying modern schools of art?”
"Oh, definitely they are" Kumbo answered and then added, “Blackness of tonight’s sky; the stars’ brilliance and the way in which the Milky Way stretched across the canopy reminds me with a night I spent in one of the caves with wise Kawanga”. His friend asked, wondering, “Kawanga! Who is wise Kawanga?” Kumbo answered, “The eldest of my tribe whom we will interview tomorrow”. His friend asked; his voice shrouded with seriousness, “What happened?”. Kumbo said, “One day, my grandfather, wise Kawanga, and I were out hunting for game but the darkness of the night sneaked upon us. So we sought shelter in one of the caves. Inside, the light of the torch held by Kawanga unveiled wall paintings. I asked my grandfather to look at them. My grandfather asked me if I meant the the paintings of people and animals. I answered affirmatively and said that I could not recognize some of the animals and asked what were these paintings. Kawanga said they were very old paintings. Realizing how beautiful they were, I asked him again who painted them. He did not have any idea.
When I lay in bed I saw an opening in the cave ceiling, and through its limited size, I saw many brilliant stars. My mind roamed and my soul flew through the ceiling hole in attempt to ascend to heavens the genesis of which wise Kawanga told me that night. “What did he tell you” Kumbo’s friend asked when Kumbo paused for a while. “But I can’t tell you now” Kumbo said, laughing, “You will have to wait until you hear it first hand tomorrow from wise Kawanga”. Kumbo’s friend said with an edgy tone of voice, “I can’t wait, my friend!" and then after a short pause, he emphatically added, "You have already rattled the boat of my curiosity” . Kumbo laughed and then said, “Keep your boat steady and sail ahead in the ocean of time until we hit the island of tomorrow!”
Next day, a while before sunset, Kumbo and his friend sat on the ground in the open in front of wise Kawanga who was in his early eighties, physically feeble, but still sharp-minded.
At the beginning ─ narrated toothless wise Kawanga ─ the universe was a great void; nothingness, darkness and absolute silence, But the self-existent creator who came out of the womb of nothingness looked at the Great Above and saw that it should be illuminated. So he created pebbles of clay, fashioned them as stars, suns and moons and then flung them into the void where they scattered and floated on the void's substance. And by His will the celestial bodies stayed in suspense giving light and guidance. After that, the creator desired to visit the Great Below. The half-calabash of the Great Above and the half-calabash of the Great Below were divided by a wide spatial gap. So God created Anansi, the celestial spider to spin a web over the spatial gap. By means of such a web, God reached the Great Below.
In the Great Below, everything was marshy and watery. So God decided to create solid ground. He took some of the loose earth stored in his giant snail’s shell and poured it on the marshy area and then created the divine pigeon and the five-toe hen and let them scratch and spread the earth.
On his second visit, God hoarded part of the water by creating embankments and dykes to control it. Thus He created the rivers. The rest of the water became the big seas and lakes. He then looked and everything seemed good in His eyes. So he created many other things like trees, plants and animals. He looked again and everything seemed good in His eyes, but he noticed that the Earth became heavier, due to the increased mass added by His creation, and started to sink. So he created Thu’banu, the mighty python. Wise and mighty Thu’banu carried the Earth in one of his curls and then wrapped himself around the two halves of the calabash; the earth below and the heavens above, and held them together. As a reward for his wisdom, God entrusted Thu-banu with the key to the treasury of wisdom where the tablets of the divine knowledge were kept.
God looked again and everything was good in His eyes. God then created Abi'du to worship him and appreciate his creation. He supplied them with wheat and barley, onion and garlic, Maize, flax and many kinds of fruits, and asked them to intimately know each other; male and female, multiply and spread around, gather and hunt and fill the earth with their offspring.
When wise Kawanga finished his narration, he smiled and then rose up and left; his body’s internal clock, the external solar clock and the good smell of African spicy food being cooked told him that dinner was about to be served.After Kawanga’s departure, Kumbo pointed to a little stripped and beautifully colored lizard running by and said to his friend, “Do you see that lizard running over there?”. his friend nodded, “It is beautiful” .Kumbo said, his mouth wearing a smile, “I heard this type of lizards have a divine task”. His friend wondered, saying, “Is that right?” Kumbo said, “I remember when I was young my mother always yelled at me whenever I killed one” Kumbo’s friend inquired, “And what divine task is that?” Kumbo answered, “My mother told me that this particular family of lizards carried the key to heavens in their colorful stripes and if I killed any of them, I won’t be able to enter heavens”. Kumbo’s friend then answered with a bit of sarcasm, “But I heard such a key was given only to those who were faithful” Kumbo wondered, “Really!” Kumbo’s friend emphasized, “That is what my mother told me” Kumbo then asked with a mischevious smile on his lips, “And you believed her. Did not you?”. After a short pause, Kumbo’s friend answered while scratching his chin, “Why not, my friend. If the cosmos is a split gigantic calabash held together by a snake, then definitely a tiny lizard can carry the key to heavens”. Kumbo, then, burst out laughing all heartedly.