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Nyame Sends a Python to Teach Humans to Mate


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(Asante/Ghana)

Nyame (Nyankopon, Onyankopon, Odomankoma) is the supreme being, the creator, an ever-present force who is nevertheless somewhat remote from the affairs of humans. Lesser gods, Abosom, are the children of Nyame's sons (Apo, Bea, Bosomtwe, and Tano), and they deal with the day to day activities of humans on the earth. Nyame at one time sent his four sons to the earth to work with humans: they became identified with bodies of water. An Asante proverb suggests that if one wishes to say something to Nyame, one should speak it to the winds. Nyame's female side is represented by the moon; the male side by the sun. Humans were created with water by the female side of God; the life force came from the male side. There is a pantheon of gods, including Asase, the earth goddess.

The earth had been created by Nyame, and humans populated that earth. But in the beginning they did not conceive and bear children. Then Nyame caused a python to move to the earth, and that python taught humans to mate.

In another myth, Nyame journeyed around the earth creating the things of the earth at the same time that men and women worked out their own lives and activities.

In the beginning, Nyame lived on the earth, mingling with the humans he had created; they regularly visited with each other. But all of this came to an end one day: Nyame was watching some women as they pounded grain in mortars with pestles. The women, not happy with his presence there, told him to move on; when he did not move away quickly enough they rushed at him, striking him with their pestles. Nyame, angry at this treatment, left the earth and determined to remain away permanently. But he did not lose interest in those he had created; he retained concern for humans on the earth, and from the heavens he dispatched a goat to them with a hopeful message: he told the humans that Death would move among them, killing them. But he assured the humans that they would not remain dead, that they would in the end journey to the skies to be with God. So the goat set out; as he moved along with Nyame's message, he came to some fine looking grass, and he stopped to eat some of it. (The goat, not one of Nyame's favorite creatures, later became responsible for altering God's intentions regarding bodies of water on the earth.) In the heavens, Nyame saw what the goat was doing and, annoyed, he sent a sheep down to earth: the sheep was to carry the identical message to the humans. But the sheep garbled God's message; he told the people that God had decreed that when they died that would be the end. In the meantime, the goat continued his journey, and when he came to the humans he told them that Nyame had sent him with the message that, when humans died, they would go to him in the heavens. But it was too late: the humans told the goat that they had accepted the message of the sheep, and so death came among people.

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Subjects: Religion.


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