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Heitsi-Eibib Parts the Water


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(Khoi/South Africa)

Heitsi-Eibib (Kabip) was a mythical ancestor hero. All the actions ascribed to him were those of a man, but of one endowed with supernatural powers. He died and rose again many times; he was a rich and powerful chief, a seer and thaumaturgist, and a great hunter, but he was also full of tricks and his character was not altogether blameless. His graves, heaps of stone piled up high, were found all over the country, and no Khoi would pass one without adding to it a stone or branch or some similar object, sometimes also muttering a prayer for good luck and success in hunting. But he never commanded the same respect and reverence in the eyes of the Khoi as did Tsui-∥Goab. Heitsi Eibib could take many forms: sometimes he was handsome, or his hair grew down to his shoulders; at other times, it was short.

Once, when he was traveling with many people, an enemy pursued them. When they came to a body of water, he said, “My grandfather's father, open so that I may pass through. Then close yourself afterward.” The water parted, and he and his people went safely through. Then their enemies tried to pass through the opening, but when they were in the middle of it, it closed on them and they perished.

A man made a large hole in the ground and sat by it. He told those who passed by to throw a stone at his forehead. But when a person did this, the stone rebounded and killed the person who had thrown it, and he fell into the hole. At last, Heitsi-Eibib was told that many people were thus dying. So he went to that man who challenged Heitsi-Eibib to throw a stone at him. He declined to do that, but he drew the man's attention to someone on one side, and when the man turned around to look, Heitsi-Eibib hit him behind the ear. The man died and fell into his own hole, and there was peace and the people lived peacefully. See also: ǂGama-ǂGorib, Hishe, Tsui∥Goab.

Subjects: Religion.


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