Masupa's Command Is Broken

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In the beginning there was only Masupa, a creator. He was alone. He created three children, two sons and one daughter. One of the sons was the ancestor of the Efe, the other the ancestor of the neighboring peoples.

God communicated with his people but never showed himself to them. He gave them one commandment— they must never seek him. Masupa lived in a large house in which could be heard the sound of hammering and forging. He was good to his children, and they lived happily. Everything came to them; they did not have to labor. The daughter's task was to gather firewood and water, then place them in front of the door of Masupa's home. One evening, when she was placing the water pot in front of the door, her curiosity overwhelmed her. Secretly, she tried to get a glimpse of her father. She hid behind a post so that she would at least see the arm of her father when he took in the water pot, and she did. God stretched his arm, which was covered with brass rings, to take in the pot. She had seen it—the richly adorned arm of God. But her sin was immediately followed by punishment. In his rage, God called his children and announced to them the fearful punishment they must bear for their disobedience: henceforth they must live without him, he was withdrawing himself from them. God gave them weapons and tools, taught them the use of the forge and other things that would be necessary for them as they went through life alone. But he cursed their sister. Henceforward, she was to be the wife of her brothers. In pain, she would bring forth children and be kept to all kinds of hard toil. God left his children in a clandestine fashion, disappearing downstream along the banks of the river. Since then no one has seen him. With God went happiness and peace, and everything that he formerly offered them freely went from the people: water, fish, game, and fruit. They must work hard in order to eat their daily bread away from God. Still worse, as punishment for their sins, death was brought about with the first child born of woman. As the woman was filled with anxious forebodings, she herself named the child Kukua kendi, meaning, “Death is coming.” The child died two days after its birth. Since then no one escapes the avenger, Death. So it is that death came into the world. See also: Arebati, Baatsi, Epilipili, Tore.

Subjects: Religion.

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