Home Culture 4 Fascinating and Thought-Provoking African Myths That Would Make You Wonder

4 Fascinating and Thought-Provoking African Myths That Would Make You Wonder


4 Fascinating and Thought-Provoking African Myths That Would Make You Wonder.

All cultures in Africa have myths at the heart of the folkloric aspects of their culture. For every African community, there are stories that seek to provide an elaboration of the existence of life and all other subjects related to it.

With about 1.2 billion people, the African continent houses more than a thousand ethnic groups with varied cultures. Even though these cultures maintain unique distinctions based on their community, there are subtle similarities that they share. Among such similarities is mythology.

In Jones M. Jaja’s published journal “Myths in African concept of reality“, he posits that African myths explain human concerns and realities such as death, creation, the evolution of living things, man’s relationship with other living things. African myths present reasons for the existence of all that we know in the universe.

He further suggests that myths are socializing agents that are used to buttress the traditions of the ancestors. Myths embody vital aspects of a people’s culture and so passing them on is a way of teaching younger people about their ancestry, origin, acceptable behavior and prohibitions within their culture.

Here are some African myths that would leave you completely stunned. Scroll through to read:

Why God’s dwelling place is in the sky?

In Akan mythology, God lived very close to earth, however, he moved further away from us because an old woman (abrewa) would not stop pounding food in a mortar for her kids. The pestle constantly bumps Nyame (God) which made him furious. Out of anger, he moved further away from man.

For the Basotho and Bavenda people of Lesotho, Huveane, their creator moved to heaven because humans made too much noise. Huveane wanted to admire his handiwork after creation. Unfortunately, humans had gained knowledge about certain things like birds and bees. This was a huge stride for the humans, but the noise that resulted from this was too loud for Huveane so he ascended into the heavens by driving pegs into the ground to help him climb to the top. He removed all the pegs so that it became impossible for man to follow him to heaven.
What brings about rainfall?

According to the Lovedu people of the Mpumalanga in South Africa, the occurrence of rain is controlled by Modjadji, the Rain Queen. She is said to be the incarnation of the rain goddess. As the controller of rain, it is believed that her state of mind influences the weather. It is believed that she is able to send storm to destroy the enemies of Lovedu or send gentle rains to nurture their friends. Every year, the Rain Queen’s powers are displayed at the Ga Modjadji settlement during the rain making ceremony. The Rain Queens are all expected to commit suicide by poisoning at the age of 60. Possessions are handed over to her successor.


How did wisdom spread to other heads?

Kweku Anansi or Ananse, is the famous spider in the trickster tales of many West African cultures. He is cunning, very wise, mostly greedy with a new trick always up his sleeve. In Akan mythology, it was believed that Anansi wanted to hoard knowledge in order to have it all to himself. When he succeeded in gathering all of knowledge into a pot, he attempted to hide it on the tallest tree in the forest. He tied the pot in front of him and started climbing the tree. When his son saw him, he enquired what Ananse was doing. After Ananse explained to his son what he wanted to do, his son advised him to tie the pot on his back, because if the pot was tied in front, it could break while he climbed. Ananse heeded his son’s advice. Upon reaching the top, he realized his son’s advice was wise. Knowing he could not possibly have all the wisdom in the world because of his son’s counsel, he dropped the pot and so everyone could have a piece.


Why does death exist?

According to a Zulu story, the Old One, ‘Unkulunkulu’ sent the chameleon to men with the message ‘let not men die’. The chameleon set off to deliver the message but it was slow and it spent time eating berries from the ‘ubukwebezane’ tree and longed in the sun and even fell asleep. The old one had a rethink and sent the lizard with another message to men. This time the message was ‘let men die’. The lizard hurriedly got to men and delivered the message. Later on, the chameleon arrived with the message but it was told it was late and that they had heard what lizard said already. From this story, the lateness of the chameleon is the reason why death exists today. According to the Luhya (a Bantu ethnic group in Kenya), death exists as consequence of a curse placed on man by a chameleon. It is said that man broke the laws of hospitality by refusing to share his food with the chameleon.

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