Njambe: The Two Bundles

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Njambe is the supreme being.

While a man was working one day in the forest, a little man with two bundles—one large and one small—went to him and asked, “Which of these two bundles will you have? This one,” taking up the large bundle, “contains looking glasses, knives, beads, cloth, and this one,” taking up the little bundle, “contains lasting life.” The man answered, “I cannot choose by myself. I must go and ask the other people in the town.” While he was gone to ask the other people, some women arrived, and the choice was put to them. The women tried the edges of the knives, bedecked themselves in the cloth, admired themselves in the looking-glasses, and without more ado they selected the big bundle and took it away. The little man, picking up the small bundle, vanished. On the return of the man from the town, both the little man and his bundles had disappeared. The women exhibited and shared the things, but death continued on the earth.

Nkengo was the son of Libuta, and he noticed that the people were dying daily in great numbers. So one day he called out loudly, “You Cloud-people, throw me down a rope!” The Cloud-people heard, and they threw him a rope. Nkengo held on to it and was pulled up to the Cloud-land. When he arrived there, Nkengo had to wait one day, and in the morning the Cloud-people said to him, “You have come here to receive everlasting life and escape from death. You cannot make your request for seven days, and in the meantime you must not go to sleep.” Nkengo was able to stay awake for six days, but on the seventh day he nodded and went to sleep. The Cloud-people woke him up, saying, “You came here to receive everlasting life and escape from death. You were able to keep awake six days. Why did you abandon your purpose on the seventh day?” They were so angry with him that they drove him out of Cloud-land and lowered him to the earth. The people on the earth asked him what had happened up above, and Nkengo replied, “When I reached Cloud-land, they told me that in order to gain everlasting life I must keep awake for seven days. I did not sleep for six days and six nights. But on the seventh day I nodded in sleep, whereupon they drove me out, saying, ‘Get away with your dying. You shall not receive everlasting life, for every day there shall be death among you!’” His friends laughed at him because he went to receive everlasting life and lost it through sleeping. That is the reason why death continues in the world. See also: Libanza, Motu.

Subjects: Religion.

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