At Indiana University
The Creation of the World A Myth of Uganda
Retold by Charlotte and Wolf Leslau
Kabezya-Mpungu, the highest god, had created the sky and the earth and two human beings, a man and a woman endowed with Reason. However, these two human beings did not, as yet, possess Mutima, or Heart.
Kabezya-Mpungu had four children, the Sun, the Moon, Darkness, and Rain. He called them all together and said to them, "I want to withdraw now, so that Man can no longer see me. I will send down Mutima in my place. But before I take my leave I want to know what you, Rain, are going to do."
"Oh," replied Rain, "I think I will pou down without cease and put everything under water."
"No," answered the god. "Don't do that. Look at these two." And he pointed to the man and the woman. "Do you think they can live under water? You'd better take turns with the Sun. After you have sufficiently watered the earth, let the Sun go to work and dry it."
The god turned then to the Sun. "And how are you going to conduct yourself?" he asked.
"I intend to shine hotly and burn everything under me," said his second child.
"No," replied Kabezya-Mpungu. "That cannot be. How do you expect the people whom I created to get food? When you have warmed the earth for a while, give Rain a chance to refresh it and make the fruit grow."
"And you, Darkness, what are your plans?"
"I intend to rule forever!" was the answer.
"Have pity!" cried the god. "Do you want to condemn my creatures, the lions and the tigers and the serpents, to see nothing of the world I made? Listen to me. Give the Moon time to shine on the earth, and when you see the Moon in its last quarter, you may again rule. But I have lingered too long. Now I must go." And he disappeared.
Somewhat later, Mutima, Heart, came along, in a small container no bigger than a hand. Heart was crying, and asked Sun, Moon, Darkness, and Rain, "Where is Kabezya-Mpungu, our father?"
"Father is gone," they said, "and we do not know where."
"Oh how great is my desire," said Heart, "to commune with him. But since I cannot find him I will enter into Man, and through him I will seek God from generation to generation."
And that is what happened. Ever since, all children born of Man contain Mutima, a longing for God.
Except as noted, by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf. All rights reserved.