September 27, 1996
In The Yoruba and Madagascar myths of creation, the beginning of the
world was a formless Chaos which was neither sea nor land. Orisha Nla, also
called the Great God, was sent down from the sky to the Chaos by Olorun, the
Supreme Being. His obligatory mission was to create solid land and to aid him
in the accomplishment of this task, he was given a snail shell, a pigeon, and a
five-toed hen. After the earth and land were separated, a chameleon was sent
with Orisha Nla to inspect his work and report to the Supreme Being. Olorun was
satisfied with the good things reported to him and sent Orisha Nla to finish.
He planted trees, Olorun made rain water fall from the sky and grew the seeds
into a great forest. The creation of earth took four days and on the fifth
Orisha Nla rested from his work.
Orisha fashioned the first people from earth for Olorun, but only the
Supreme Being was able to give them life. Orisha Nla hid in his workshop trying
to watch him, but a spell of deep sleep was cast onto him so that only Olorun
knew the secret. He made the first man and woman and their daughter and her
husband. The rest of the human beings descended from the them.
As time passed, the Creator noticed that as humans multiplied and
prospered, they gave thanks to Mother Earth but forgot about him. He decided
thenceforth to take the souls of half the humans signifying a tribute.
In the myth, Why Men Must Die told by the Zulu's of Natal in South
Africa, we are told how because of a slow moving tiny animal man-kind suffered
and still does of mortality. The first man on earth, also a god, sent the
chameleon to give humans the message that they will be like the gods and never
die promptly. Because he took too long to travel to mankind and spread the good
news, he sent a viper out of annoyance with the message that he changed his mind
and they will not live forever.
In the Egyptian creation story... [continues]
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