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Nzeanzo Retreats from Earth Because His Potency Destroys Many


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(Bachama, Bata/Nigeria)

Venin was the mother of all the Bachama gods. Her death is mourned annually; she is said to have come from the skies. Her brother was Wun, the god of death. Nzeanzo (Janzo, Njanjo), the most honored of the gods, was the youngest of Venin's five sons. His brothers were Gbeso, Hamagenin, Hamalbulki, and Ngbirrim, the founders of Bachama cults. Nzeanzo is the giver of rain; he is the corn god and the creator of man. He is not a remote god, but is immanent on earth, ever present with his people and engaged in a ceaseless contest with Wun.

While still in his mother's womb, Nzeanzo asked her to permit him to be born before his time. His mother said she had never heard of such a thing, but if he could devise a means of being born, then let him do so. Nzeanzo then came out of his mother's thigh. While he was still a small child, his mother left him behind while she went with her other children to visit her brother, Wun, to purchase cattle. Wun pretended to receive his sister joyfully, but resolved to devour her children. So he set things up so that her sons would sleep with his four daughters. Nzeanzo, fearing that some evil might befall his brothers, decided to follow them to the house of Wun, and arrived in the middle of the night. Divining the wicked intention of Wun, he transferred the clothes of Wun's daughters to his brothers, and the loin coverings of his brothers to the girls. Wun rose up in the darkness, and, feeling along the line of sleeping children, he seized each child who was wearing a boy's loincloth and cast it into a pot of boiling water. He then lay down again to sleep. Nzeanzo then roused his brothers, showed them the children of Wun boiling in the pot and the fate they had escaped. He set his mother and his brothers on the road back to earth and followed, riding on a hunting dog. When Wun woke up and found that he had been tricked, he hurled a river in front of Nzeanzo, but Nzeanzo caused the river to become a stream and leapt across. Wun then cast a marsh in his way, but Nzeanzo caused it to become merely a pool and, vaulting over it, reached home in safety. His brothers now knew that they were no match for Nzeanzo.

Nzeanzo once collected all the flies in the world and put them in a calabash. He warned his brothers not to open the calabash. But during his absence they opened it, and hence the plague of flies that men are now forced to endure.

One of Nzeanzo's brothers went to Kona, and when Nzeanzo visited his brother he was attracted by the women of Kona, and took one as a wife. The end of the god's life on earth is not clear. Some say that he died for the people, others that he withdrew from the earth because the potency of his person was causing the death of many.

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Subjects: Religion.


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