Libanza and Nsongo Move to the Heavens

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Libanza was the first man.

He lived on the earth and was the first to go to heaven. His mother first gave birth to elephants, to animals of the countryside, to flies and insects, to the amphibia. Then she told Libanza to come out, but before he would do so he ordered his mother to scrape her fingernails. When she had done this, he threw out spears, shield, a chair covered with brass nails, and finally came out himself. Libanza's father was trapped and killed while stealing some fruit for his wife. He acquainted his wife with his death by causing a horn he had left her to overflow with blood. As soon as Libanza was born, he inquired about his father and the manner of his death, and set himself to punish the one who had killed him; after a series of efforts to do this, he was successful. As Libanza and his sister, Nsongo, journeyed, Libanza changed himself into a boy covered with yaws. A hunter met them and made them his slaves. Their new master was not very successful as a hunter, so Libanza told him to give him the snares—he would try to catch some monkeys. He appeared to be a weak boy covered with yaws, and his master therefore laughed at him. But he gave the boy the snares, and Libanza quickly caught thirty monkeys. While the hunters were dividing the monkeys, Libanza and his sister fled. At a large town, he again turned himself into a boy covered with yaws. The people of the town were pounding sugarcane to make sugarcane wine. A man claimed them as his slaves. Libanza told them to give him a pestle—he would crush the cane. The people laughed that so small a boy should make such a request. However, Libanza used the pestle with such vigor that it snapped in two. He broke all the pestles they had in the town except the last one, and with that he ran away. Nsongo saw a man whom she wanted to marry. Libanza changed himself into a shell, then into a saucepan, and followed the man. But the man ran away filled with fear. Libanza then turned himself into the handle of an ax, and, when the man came to pick up the handle, Libanza caught him and led him to his sister. This person had only one leg and stumps for fingers, and Nsongo, when she saw this, refused to have him for a husband. They resumed their wanderings. Nsongo saw a bunch of ripe palm nuts, and she asked her brother to ascend the tree and cut down the nuts. Libanza climbed the palm tree, and as he ascended it the palm tree grew higher and higher, until the top was hidden in the heavens. There Libanza alighted, leaving his sister down below on the earth. Nsongo, alone on the earth, heard a rumbling noise. She thought it was her brother, Libanza, scolding up above. She called a wizard and asked him how she could rejoin her brother. The wizard told her to call a hawk and send a packet with it to her brother. She should put herself into the packet. The hawk reached the place where Libanza was; when he opened the parcel, his sister emerged. Libanza became a black-smith. There was in that country a person whose name was Ngombe; he swallowed people every day. Libanza, with molten metal, killed the swal-lower of people. See also: Motu, Njambe.


Subjects: Religion.

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