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Nzambi Mpungu and the Race between Moon and Sun


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(Fiote, Fjort, Vili/Congo)

Nzambi Mpungu is God, the father god who dwells in the heavens. Nzambici is God the essence, the god on earth, the great princess, the mother of all the animals, the one who promises her daughter to the animal who shall bring her the fire from heaven. Lightning is made by a blacksmith, Funzi, who lives in the center of Kongo country. Nzassi is thunder, and Lusiemo is lightning. The spirit that dwells in the sea is Chicamassi-chibuinji. The mystery of the earth, Nzambi, the mother of a beautiful daughter, gives mankind all laws, ordinances, arts, games, and musical instruments. Nzambi settles quarrels between animals, and in the stories giving her decision is embedded an immense amount of Fjort law.

The creator is the great god, Nzambi Mpungu, the god who had fire and from whom Nzambi partially stole it; he did not give freely of his boxes of lightning.

Nzambi Mpungu made the earth and sent Nzambi there. Then he came down and married his creation, thereby becoming the father of us all. Nzambi became the great princess who governed all on earth.

Some women were busy planting in a country where water was scarce, so they brought their sangas, containing that precious fluid, with them. As they were working, an old woman, carrying a child on her back, passed by them, hesitated for a moment, then walked back to them and asked them to give her child a cup of water. The women said that they had carried the water from afar, and needed it for themselves, as there was no water just there. The poor old woman passed on, but told them that they would one day regret their want of charity. A man up in a palm tree placed a calabash at her feet. She told him to be there at the same time the next day. When he arrived, he found a great lake full of fish. The old woman told him that men could fish here, but women, because of the way they had treated her, would die if they ate the fish from the lake. “For I, Nzambi,” she said, “have so ordered it.” Nzambi then loaded the young man with many gifts, and told him to depart in peace.

Ntangu, the sun, and Ngonde, the moon, are brothers. They lived in a village by the sea, and Ntangu wagered Ngonde that he could not beat him in a race. Ngonde caught up with Ntangu, and then Ntangu became annoyed and said that he would defeat Ngonde in a race, but he did not, so Ngonde won the wager. This is why the moon is seen during the day, with the sun, but the sun is never seen at night in company with the moon.

Subjects: Religion.


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