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Nawuge: The Rope to Earth


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(Topotha, Nyitopotha/Sudan)

Nawuge, God, lives in the sky. He decides how long a man is to live, but takes little interest in the affairs of mankind.

Long ago, all the people lived up above with Nawuge. One day, a bird flew up from earth to heaven, carrying in its beak a long rope. The rope was seized by the people, who started sliding down it until they reached the earth, where they found grass and trees, cattle and sheep. They milked the cattle and liked the taste of the milk. A lot of people came down the rope, but some remained above. Presently, a woman who was near her time with twins tried to slide down, but the rope broke and some people were left above and some on earth.

Sacred fire-making plays an important part in Topotha ritual. Fire-makers have sacred fire sticks that are handed down from father to son. Fire-makers accompany fighting expeditions. When the party arrives near its objective, the warriors are halted and the fire-makers make a fire on the path leading to the attack. The column tramps through the fire until it is extinguished, and once he has passed through it on no account is a warrior allowed to look over his shoulder. The same ceremony is observed during hunting expeditions. In times of emergency, drought, sickness, cattle plague, rainmakers attend the council of the elders. They make the fire in which the sacrificed animal is burned.

Subjects: Religion.


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