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Mpaca's Very Long Fingernail


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(Nyanga/DRCongo)

Mpaca is a spirit of the forest.

Mpaca is male but often appears to be feminine, with abundant hair and long nails, and he is very thin because he does not eat. And he has the ability to change himself into a beautiful young girl. He is always evil, envious, and powerful, possessing an extraordinary sense of smell: he has the snout of an animal. He attacks women when they are alone in the forest, attaching himself firmly on their backs, forcing them to do things for him. But he always ends by being defeated.

After her marriage, a woman called Nturo quarreled often with her husband. Because she was frequently beaten by him, Nturo decided to hang herself. She came to a small village of which the forest spirit, Mpaca, was the lord. He called her name, Nturo. Then. inside his house, Mpaca lept on her back. He had a very long fingernail, which he stretched and buried in her neck. Now she did all the work in the house, with Mpaca attached to her back. She complained about this, and Mpaca finally withdrew his fingernail from her neck. The next morning, he went to gather some wood for Nturo. While he was gone, she entered a snail shell. Mpaca returned and, finding that she was gone, stretched out his fingernail, seeking her. But he could not find her. The nail searched everywhere, and finally it came upon the snail shell and plucked out the woman. Once again, Mpaca stretched out his nail, and buried it in Nturo's neck, and she again protested. Her aunt, appearing to her in a dream, told her to prepare some beer. Nturo tempted the spirit with it. He took his nail from her neck so that he could drink. The beer bewitched Mpaca; he became drunk and fell asleep. Nturo cut his throat and returned to her family in the village.

Subjects: Religion.


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