Unknown African Myths and Legends

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For centuries amongst a variety of cultures stories and legends have been handed down from ancestor to youngsters. Stories of death, magic, celestial beings, the birth of the universe and quirky animals. We’ve gathered a few of our favourite anecdotes, whether there lies truth in any of these stories, we will never know.

Adu Ogyinaehole earth

According to Akan mythology, it is believed that humans lived deep within this earth and on a day, seven men, five women, a leopard and a dog crawled out of a hole created by a huge worm. They became terrified once faced with their strange new surroundings but Adu Ogyinae (the first man on the surface) seemed to understand this new world and saw its wonders. He immediately took charge and coordinated the building of the first shelters until a tree he was busy chopping down caused is untimely demise.

The mysteries of the Biloko forest

The Biloko are believed to be dwarf-like entities roaming the rain forest in central Zaire. Legends state that these beings are restless ancestor spirits who still harbour resentment towards the living. Hidden in their hollow trees, they cause women to lose consciousness at the sight of them and only the most daring hunters who enter the forest could ever come out. You might be wondering what these creatures look like. Here’s a rough idea; they have no hair, long claws and sharp-toothed mouths that can open wide enough to swallow a human being whole. Hope this doesn’t give you nightmares. 😉

The Hippopotamus hippo

What is so remarkable about this hippo except that it’s spelled twice? Well, it is usually depicted as a goddess in African legends, worshipped in ancient Egypt as Tawaret, the goddess of fertility and childbirth. The Ronga people reveal the legend of a mother who left her child with Mother Hippo for guarding as the child was in mortal danger. Every night the Mother Hippo would emerge with the child in order for its mother to feed it. Male hippopotami are depicted as shape-shifting beasts.

The Zambezi River Godzambezi

Some might have heard this legend before, for those who haven’t, legendary Zambezi River God, or Nyaminyami, is a dragon-like creature believed to command the life in and around the Zambezi River. The Kariba Dam project which started in 1956 disrupted the peaceful existence of the Batonga people. When asked to relocate, the Batonga people believed that Nyaminyami would not allow the dam to be built. Were they right? Oddly, a year after work on the dam commenced, a severe flood struck, killing several workers and destroying the work they’ve already created.

What do you believe? Why don’t you go on a journey through Africa and discover more stories?


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