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Polo, A Sphere in Two Parts


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(Lango/Uganda)

Some Lango argue that there is a heaven, presided over by Jok; others insist that there is no heaven. But there is another world: polo, a realm that is an image, almost a mirror, of the world that we know.

The universe is conceptualized by the Lango people as a sphere: the bottom part, that with which we are familiar, is the earth; the top part is another world, similar to ours. It also contains people and animals. That top part of the sphere, known as polo, is the sky. It is a shadowy world; it cannot be clearly seen from the earth. Between these two worlds is the heavens, and the planetary bodies, the sun, the moon, the stars, can be seen from both of the worlds. When it is day on earth, the moon and the stars can be seen in polo. As for the sun, it is said that when it moves to the west, it moves quickly again to the east, thence to begin its movement again in the morning.

The world of polo, that other world, is inhabited by people. Sometime Jok–who is conceived of as being like the wind, never seen, always present–transports people of this world to the world of polo, and he also brings people of polo to earth. It is said that the inhabitants of the world of polo are much like the inhabitants of earth, except that there are no white people, and that the people have tails and eat fried flies. It is a world of plentiful livestock, enormous resources, unending plenty. The first inhabitants of this world of polo were a man, Olum, and his wife, and it is said that they also had tails. See also: Jok.

Subjects: Religion.


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