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God of the Bacongo people of Angola. Identified with the sun, Nzambi is self-existent, almighty, and ‘knows all’. The Bacongo say: ‘He is made by no other, no one beyond him is.’ Nzambi, ‘the marvel of marvels’, is kind, a deity who ‘looks after the case of the poor man’. Indeed, the sky god appears to show kindness even to the most destitute members of society. Incapable of evil or wrongdoing, he ‘is just and merciful’, the ruler and sustainer of the universe, a fount of goodness.

Individual differences, however, the Bacongo attribute to Nzambi. Not only does he create individuals, but he also gives them different tastes and soul qualities. They say: ‘What comes from heaven cannot be resisted.’ A special relationship is said to exist between the creator deity and man, sometimes expressed as ‘man is god's man’.

Nail fetish figure of the Bacongo of Angola used to harness supernatural forces. Source: © Michael Holford

Subjects: Religion.

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