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Ko, a God, Dances with Mortals


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(San/Botswana, Namibia, South Africa)

Ko is the god who is below. The San had a name that they gave to God who is above them, and another to God who is under them. The former is a male, the latter a female. The male god they call Goha, the female Ko, and her attendants are called Ganna. When the San dance, Ko sometimes comes and informs them where game is to be procured, and, when any animals are killed, certain parts of them must be eaten only by particular persons. She is a large, white figure, and sheds such a brightness around that they can hardly see the fire for it; all see and hear her as she dances with them. Should a man be permitted to touch her, which seldom happens, she breathes on his arm, and this makes him shoot better. She eats nothing but bulbous roots. After Ko comes up from the ground and dances a short time with them, she disappears, and is succeeded by her nymphs, who likewise dance awhile with them.

One man said that when he died, he knew that he would be eaten up by a wolf, and that would be the end of him. When a San died, they made a grave and buried him in it with his face toward the rising sun. Were they to put his face toward the west, the sun would be longer in rising the next day. Another said that when one dies, they put the assegai, or spear, by his side, so that when he arises he will have something to defend himself with and procure a living. If the living despise the dead person, they provide no such assegai, so that when he arises he may be either murdered or starved. They suppose that sometime after they arise they shall go to a land where there will be abundance of excellent food. See also: Goha.

Subjects: Religion.


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