Enkai and the Termite Hole

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Enkai is the supreme being, the creator. Neiterkob (“that which began the earth,” which may also be a reference to Enkai), a minor deity, is the mediator between God and men. Enkai's wife is Olapa, the moon.

On the volcanic peak of Oldonje Lengai lived Enkai, the god of fertility, the maker of rain, the god of the sun and of love. The first human beings, who came out of a termite hole, settled down in the neighborhood of the mouth of the hole. They had no cattle, but increased and formed a whole village. One day, they heard from heaven Enkai's voice, telling them that seven evenings from then, they must not shut their kraals. The seventh evening came and some did as they had been requested; others were afraid and shut the entrance of their kraals before they went to sleep. They were awakened by a sound from the big opening in the earth, the termite hole: it was cattle coming up and going into the kraals that were open. A little while later, shrill sounds were heard coming from the hole: it was goats and sheep coming up and going into the kraals that were open. When the sun rose, those who had left their kraals open found them full of live-stock. Those who kept them shut were sorry that they had ignored the words of God. From the former arose the Masai; from the latter, the Kamba. God then called the Dorobo and told him to come the next day, he had something to tell him. The Masai overheard this, and in the morning he went to God and told him that he had come. God, thinking he was the Dorobo, told him to take an ax and to build a big kraal in three days. When it was ready, he was to go and search for a thin calf, which he would find in the forest. This he was to bring to the kraal and slaughter. The meat was to be tied up in the hide, not eaten. The hide was to be fastened outside the door of the house, firewood was to be fetched, and a big fire lit, into which the meat was to be thrown. He was then to hide himself in the house, and not to be startled when he heard a great noise outside resembling thunder. The Masai did as he was bid. He found the calf, slaughtered it, and tied up the flesh in the hide. He built a big fire, threw in the meat, then went into the house, leaving the fire burning outside. God caused a strip of hide to descend from heaven, which was suspended over the calf skin. Cattle at once commenced to descend one by one on the strip of hide until the whole of the kraal was filled and the animals began to press against one another and to break down the house where the startled Masai was. He went outside and, because he did so, the strip of hide was cut, and no more cattle came down from heaven. God asked him whether the cattle that were there were sufficient: the flow of cattle had ceased, he said, because the Masai had broken God's instruction. The Masai then attended to the animals that he had been given. The Dorobo lost the cattle and has had to shoot game for his food ever since.


Subjects: Religion.

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