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Jok and the Tree of Life


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(Acholi/Uganda)

Jok (Lubanga) is the supreme being. But he is not wholly accessible to humans. There are other spirits, also called jok, who carry out God's wishes, involved in the daily world of humans, touching humans positively and negatively. Spirits of the dead continue to influence humans. Jok is present everywhere, in all things: he created the world—the heavenly bodies, the landforms of the earth, the beasts and humans. He taught humans to cultivate, and gave them fire.

Jok created the world, then placed into the skies the heavenly bodies, the sun, the moon, and the stars. And he planned to give to man the fruits of the tree of life, so that he would never die. Man was therefore called to the heavens; Jok awaited him. But the man was in no hurry to move to the skies, and God became angry. In his anger, he took the fruits of the tree of life and gave them to the sun, to the moon, to the stars, so that they lived forever. Then, when man finally arrived in the skies, it was too late: the fruits of the tree of life were gone, and so man would not live forever.

In another myth, man died but, after a brief time, returned to life. He was told by Jok to take one grain of millet, grind it, and that would provide him with sufficient food. When humans broke Jok's instructions and ground a large amount of millet, they no longer returned to life once they had died.

Subjects: Religion.


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