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Hambageu Rises from the Dead


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(Sonjo, Sonyo/Tanzania)

Hambageu was a man worshiped as a god.

In the country of Sonjo lived Hambageu (Khambageu). He came to the world not in a natural way; he had neither mother nor father. He was first seen at Tinaga in a state of poverty. After a time, he built a house and lived there with five goats. One day, the people of Tinaga went to clean a water furrow. Because Hambageu ignored the call, he was fined one of his five goats. But the next day he still had his five goats, despite the fact that one had been slaughtered. A week later, the villagers went to dig the furrow again. Hambageu refused to respond to the call, and four goats were taken from him and slaughtered. The next morning, they learned that the five goats were still alive. They then decided to assassinate Hambageu. When he learned of the plot, he sent for an old blind woman. She refused to go, so Hambageu sent someone who brushed her eyes gently with a fly whisk, and the woman regained her sight. She came to Hambageu, and he told her to throw some bones at a place called Samunge in Sonjo. People arrived at his house carrying clubs, and Hambageu fled to Samunge where the woman had thrown the bones. The people of Samunge supported him. With his fire stick, in a wonderful way he kindled some guinea-fowl feathers and threw them at the Tinaga, who were wounded seriously and fled. From that day, the people of Samunge idolized Hambageu as the creator of the earth, loving him tenderly, making him their God. He made his home and married there. He did not claim to be God, but because of his daily acts and because he had no parents and as he himself could not explain how he came to the world, they considered him to be God. Hambageu had so many children that, except for two of them, he decided to change them into stones. He turned them into stone before the people's eyes. Later, he decided to expel one of the two sons. The remaining son, Aka, was loved by his father. Now Hambageu was old and weak, and Aka carried on his father's activities. One evening, inviting the Samunge to a dance, Aka flew directly into the sky like a bird and was seen no longer. This so distressed Hambageu that he moved to Belwa in the chiefdom of Sonjo. When the Samunge asked him to return, he agreed to do so. He told the people that in years to come they would observe curious changes: red people would come and dominate the country; these people would also pass overhead, flying like birds in wooden canoes. He decided not to return to Samunge, and he made Belwa his home. He told them that when he died he was not to be buried: his corpse was to be placed on top of a huge stone and left there to dry. Then the Samunge could take the corpse for burial at Samunge. He died, but the corpse was buried before the Samunge arrived to take it to their country for burial. A quarrel arose, and they decided to exhume the corpse. The grave was empty, and they learned that the corpse had not been removed by anybody. He must have risen from the dead, as during his long life he displayed countless wonders that none on earth had ever seen. From that day, the Sonjo believe that Hambageu was God and is still God and will remain God. He will return to the Sonjo country at the end of the world. This event will take place one morning when two suns will rise, one in the east and one in the west; at midday both suns will meet, and there will be much fire smoke and noise, all the birds will leave the forest and fly away, and there will be general confusion all around. No living Sonjo has seen Hambageu, but he is regarded as the God of the Sonjo and is worshiped as God.

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Subjects: Religion.


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